By Christopher J. Russo, Former City Manager
(Monday, January 2, 2017) – Typically with the start of a new year I would give you an update on recent accomplishments and a status of ongoing projects. However, I feel that we have covered that pretty well over the past several months due to the volume of work taking place, and the projects that are visibly coming to fruition. With that said, I would like to focus on the broader view of the priorities from the Transportation Master Plan (TMP).
Staff has mapped out our priorities by category are shorter, and longer term goals. The 4 categories for the TMP are as follows: Transit, Road, Pedestrians, Bikes. One common element among all of them is the goal to ease traffic congestion on Collins Avenue, the primary concern expressed throughout this process. We all know that Collins is a challenge and the solution will neither be simple nor immediate. Our study shows that the majority of the traffic does not originate nor terminate in Sunny Isles Beach. Due to geographical limitations as well as those that we are subjected to by the State, as Collins Avenue is a State Road, we are turning to technology for our solutions for most of the projects.
Technology serves as an umbrella of opportunities to improve and address traffic, walkability, and bicycle needs. For example, there is a system called Adaptive Signalization Technology, which senses slowdowns and obstructions in the travel lanes. This system then automatically adjusts the entire synchronized traffic signals on the roadway to maintain a flow of traffic in an effort to alleviate traffic jams. We have offered to be a test location within Miami-Dade County for this program.
Technology can provide better cross-walks by improving illumination and signalization. This can provide more time for a walker to achieve its destination and with an improved signalization, advise motor vehicles of oncoming pedestrians. Safer use of our sidewalks and crosswalks should in turn reduce the use of motor vehicles for local traffic and aid in relieving congestion.
In terms of improving bicycle paths, I believe that safety has to come first, therefore, an off-Collins Avenue bicycle path is a feasible solution. We have a great start with the current ability for a bicycle to exit Collins at Heritage Park and remain off Collins for most of the way to 174th Street. By the end of 2017 that route will remain off of Collins to a point south of Sunny Isles Boulevard.
The best news is that the City’s 20 years of planning and strategically implementing the Comprehensive Plan, has led to a validation of the course we have been on as it relates to safety, walkability, and beautification.
Besides these highlights, there are additional projects to achieve our goals of the TMP. As you know, there is not one singular project that will solve our issues. The most important fact is that we need to work together and have an ongoing system in place to achieve our goals.