By George “Bud” Scholl, Mayor
(Friday, October 30, 2015) – The change of seasons reminds us how desirable our island community is to live in. This time of year we start to relax as hurricane season comes to a close and many seasonal residents trickle in. Semi-trailers deliver cars from the north, restaurants get busier and of course traffic gets more congested. Our community is a place where people want to be, especially over the winter months when other parts of the world can be suffering intolerable weather. Island living brings with it a beautiful coastline, desirable weather but also certain constraints like limited access and traffic.
In October we had a situation that created a perfect storm. An explosion occurred on a Friday at midday in a condominium located at 174th Street and Collins Avenue. Fire rescue mandated a shutdown of Collins Avenue for six city blocks in both directions for roughly seven hours. Since our city is located on a narrow barrier island, this event essentially disabled anyone from driving through the central core of our city from the north or the south. It was our worst traffic nightmare but not a scenario that we have not been attempting to plan for. We have had an emergency/pedestrian access bridge in development for the past several years that has continuously faced opposition from some of the adjacent condominium buildings. In our recent shutdown, this bridge would have made a big difference in aiding first responders, fire rescue and police, for access to the explosion site and evacuation of victims. We cannot plan for every contingency, but with emergency/pedestrian only access through the key bottleneck of the city, we can create a much safer environment when faced with emergencies. This also creates the ability for pedestrians to traverse our city on interior roads, keeping Collins less crowded by pedestrians, resulting in a safer environment for all.
We are also planning a series of pedestrian bridges to cross Collins Avenue and Sunny Isles Boulevard strategically located throughout our busiest areas. These bridges will make it safer for pedestrians to cross major arteries and keep traffic moving which will significantly help mitigate bottlenecks.
Despite the physical constraints of our geography, we are extremely fortunate to live on a barrier island community with the weather, coastline and amenities we enjoy year round. As your Mayor, I can assure you that your city government is up to the challenge to keep improving our environment to ensure that Island Living continues to be the best it can be.