Traffic gridlock in Miami spurs search for transit solutions

Thu Nov 12, 2015 2:20pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By David Adams and Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - With little land left to build on between the Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean, Miami developers are going vertical, converting the city from a sprawling suburbia to a dense metropolis.

Dazzling luxury condo towers designed by top architects highlight what some have called the "Manhattanization of Miami." But with the glamor come mounting traffic woes, and politicians and residents are scrambling for long-neglected mass transit solutions.

Miami has risen to between 7th and 12th on two U.S. indexes for worst traffic congestion. The city has one of the least-developed mass transit systems among the world's major metropolitan areas.

Gridlock could tarnish the gloss on Miami's image and hurt efforts to lure new residents and companies to its sunny shores, civic leaders fear. They warn that without swift action, such as an expanded Metrorail system, rapid bus lanes and trolleys, people may find themselves trapped in their fancy pads.

Imagine the nightmare, says Seth Gordon, a Miami publicist: "You just bought an apartment, the view is to die for and the amenities are wonderful, but you can't get out."

Downtown Miami had 80,750 residents in 2014, double its population in 2000. On weekdays, the number of people in the city center surpasses 222,000.

It is poised to get more crowded as the massive $1.05 billion Brickell City Center nears completion, with a shopping mall, two office towers, almost 900 apartments and a hotel. Just to the north, the $1.7 billion Miami Worldcenter is under development, including a 765,000-square-foot mall, an 1,800-room hotel, and a 60-story condominium tower.

Exacerbating the traffic problem is a lack of affordable housing in the city center, forcing many to commute from the suburbs of Miami-Dade County, with a population of 2.6 million residents across 2,400 square miles.   Continued...

Rush hour traffic is shown on Interstate 95 near downtown Miami, Florida November 5, 2015.   REUTERS/Joe Skipper