Golden Glades Flyover

Year built: 1995

Cost: $50 million

What's dumb about it: You pay five bucks in tolls to be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic with a view of the Miami and Aventura skylines.

Why it was built: For carpoolers. But really, does South Florida have any?

Throughout the '80s, local and state transportation experts fiddled with plans to rebuild the Golden Glades Interchange, which creates a traffic bottleneck from the bowels of Mordor as thousands of drivers attempt to enter Florida's Turnpike, the Palmetto Expressway, and I-95. Originally, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) proposed replacing the winding loops of the Golden Glades with a five-level interchange. But because of the $534 million price tag, that plan has been collecting dust for more than three decades. Instead, the FDOT paid $23,000 per yard — yes, per yard — to build a temporary Band-Aid: a 94-foot-high, mile-long, two-lane bridge on I-95 for carpoolers.

When the flyover finally opened in 1995 after two years of construction, South Florida carpoolers rejoiced. They zoomed across the bridge, laughing at the poor suckers driving alone in rush-hour traffic. Yet a transportation spokesman named David Fierro told reporters the project in the near future was "not going to be able to handle all the traffic."

Then in 2008, the FDOT came up with the bright idea of spending another $122 million to restripe the high-occupancy-vehicle lanes into exclusive toll lanes, allegedly to further limit the number of drivers. Yet motorists in these lanes often find themselves moving slower than fellow travelers who aren't paying tools. Last year, commuters complained to the Miami Herald they were shelling out $4.50 or more for the privilege of being immobile on the flyover. One driver described the experience as "infuriating" and "grossly unfair." The I-95 express lanes are now carrying 50,000 to 60,000 cars a day, according to figures released by the FDOT last year. Officials acknowledge that travel slows when more cars are crammed into these lanes.

South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center

Year built: 2011

Cost: $51 million

What's dumb about it: The county already spent $483 million to build a performing arts center in downtown Miami.

Why it was built: All politics is local — and much of it is foolish.

In 1993, one year after Hurricane Andrew leveled South Miami-Dade, county Commissioner Dennis Moss insisted construction of a South Dade cultural center was an essential part of his blueprint to stimulate economic development in his storm-ravaged district.

Soon, the county hired Arquitectonica International, one of the nation's best-known design firms, to devise a plan for the performance hall and activity center. "This is a very exciting project," principal Bernardo Fort-Brescia gushed. "For us to do a building that represents culture in our community, it's a real treat." Yippee for you, Bernardo! Pretty sure the $2.9 million Arquitectonica made on the deal was a huge incentive too.

When Moss introduced his plan, the center would cost taxpayers $31 million. But the county didn't have the funding in place. Officials were more focused on the project that would become the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, which was plagued by cost overruns and delays. Finally, in late 2007, the county hired a contractor, the Tower Group, to build the South Dade center. By then, the project's cost had almost doubled to $51 million. Worse, an investigation in 2009 by the Miami-Dade Inspector General concluded Tower was responsible for $2.3 million in cost overruns and delays. The builder blamed the county's Cultural Affairs Department, which oversaw construction. Tower and county officials are still haggling over repayment.

The 966-seat South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center finally had a soft opening this past April. County commissioners allocated $1.25 million to the center's programming budget this year. But the place will have a tough time filling seats. For the past year, the Arsht Center has sold only 82 percent and 66 percent of its tickets for the Broadway in Miami series and Arsht-exclusive events, respectively. Resident companies such as the Miami City Ballet, Florida Grand Opera, and New World Symphony have fared worse, selling 65 percent of their tickets, a decrease from the 2006 season, when the Arsht Center opened. During that time, the Concert Association of Florida also went bankrupt. To operate, the Arsht drains more than $8 million annually from Miami-Dade's coffers.

Watchdog Report publisher Dan Ricker, who has monitored the construction and operation of both cultural facilities, believes it will be impossible for the county to continue to subsidize both venues. "In a down economy, will there be money for programming all the smaller cultural centers and the mother ship in downtown Miami?" Ricker ponders. "I'm worried."

Sunkist Park

Year built: 2011

Cost: $350,000

What's dumb about it: It's a playground that parents can't drive their kids to.

Why it was built: To get rid of a trash dump.

The county's parks and recreation department decided in 2009 to spruce up a less-than-one-acre lot after complaints from Carla Ascencio-Savola, who at the time was chairwoman of the community council that represents East Kendall. "It had become an eyesore," Ascencio-Savola says, adding that residents began using the property as a dump after Hurricane Wilma in 2005. So she persuaded Carlos Gimenez, then a commissioner, to allocate funds for a small park.

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18 comments
Lave
Lave

Francisco Alvarado is a hypocrite! Why don't you do a news breaking segment on your friends or better said FRIEND who pays cops on the side to keep them from getting arrested for DUI's and cleaning up their boyfriends' drug record? WHy not them? I am sure you know who I am talking about,or maybe not if you have more than one friend doing this. Here is a clue this friend is what keeps you working, surely your writting isn't the cuase.

NEWS TIMES need to keep a closer look on who they hire! I say NEWS TIMES should do drug test on their so called writers. - DON't be scared Francisco

SOBE50
SOBE50

ITs Wonderful

Its wonderful to hear form the 5 people that use these facilities ...

Its so nice that the "government" can find the time to waste Millions $$ of taxpayers money so a small number of citizens that use their bikes ...

Lets see Millions of taxpayers .. How many use the facilities 10,000? 5,000? 2,000? maybe 100

WONDERFUL enjoy!

David Clark
David Clark

Miami (Dade County)may be in the lead in the corrupt dept., but this happens all over. Way to much is a bow to the extremists. e.g. the bike path which no one uses, why was it built? so the politicians can show how sensitive they are to environmental causes. Same holds true for Metrorail M-Path. Some useless politician pushed this because his girl friend's cause of the week was "Public Transit", Forget the initial building costs, each user could be given a free taxi ride for what the unionized maintenance people are paid.

Many, and I mean MANY of these "public works" projects are to create construction jobs for unionized workers, who then "donate" billions to mostly democrat politicians. Then we pay the cost to maintain these white elephants who also pay outrageous dues which flow right back to the politicians who control their jobs.

In the end however it's OUR fault for allowing these special interests, unions and wacko environmentalists, to name a few, to control corrupt politicians who WE vote to return to office while they thumb their noses at those of us who pay the taxes.

Cornejo Stephanie
Cornejo Stephanie

I'd like to echo some other comments and mine. The M-Path is not a waste of taxpayer's money. As a weekly M-Path to get to work from the bus station, I run into other bicylists (yes, that's plural) every time. The M-Path is less stressful to ride on, of course, at all intersections you should be careful just as you would riding on the street or sidewalk. A greater question is what would bicycling be like in Miami-Dade without it.

Mr. Alvarado, your findings of 'M-Path bicycle users' over the course of one rush hour evening in one given area, is a poor reflection of your researching skills. Let alone allowing it to merit a comment in your article is of bad taste.

Additionally, a crosswalk right by the entrance and exit of a highway would be a scary thing to even attempt to cross, which is why a bridge is being built. The pedestrian and bicyclist can cross without being hit by an oncoming cars entering the highway.

Guest
Guest

Betsey makes some good points. The location of the M-Path along the MetroRail route has definite advantages. It is safe, and it makes a swath of Miami territory accessible by bicycle - you can get on and off the MetroRail with your bike. I don't think you can have gotten opinions from a very large sample of users.

Furthermore, the M-Path doubles the functionality of public property already in use and so is an economical use of public funds. Instead of carping, maybe the New Times should publicize the M-path's benefits and promote more bike-riding.

BetseyBy
BetseyBy

The bike path under the metro rail (running from at least the Brickell area down to Dadeland) is NOT a waste of tax payers' money. For myself & others, it is not only a safe riding path that I use, but it also gives me the option of easily getting on & off Metro rail at every station. It is very well placed & thought out. I wish there were more such safe bike paths around Miami, raised or separated from the auto roads & safe for bikers. I recently got knocked off my bike on the bridge between NE 125th St. & Bay and Bal Harbour because there is NO bike path over the majority of the bridge area. (only one short area.)The policeman said I should be riding on the sidewalk over the bridge, but the sidewalk is not only too narrow but has encroaching built in obstructions that narrow it even further.

In Bal Harbour also, bicyclists are not supposed to ride on the sidewalk, leaving no safe bike paths adjacent to or near the streets reserved for autos. The police there tell you to ride on the beach, out of the way & not easily accessible to the commercial sites & over the bridges in Bal Harbour.

I wish there were more such bike paths as the one criticized here, or safer ones around Dade County. We are very backward about promoting/advocating safe alternative transportation methods, esp. re: safe biking paths.

Noneya
Noneya

I LOVE living in MIAMI! It's so CLOSE to the United States!

mabella
mabella

Another great article. Good job!Can you imagine how many palms have been scratched while they fleece the taxpayers?

RoadsRunner
RoadsRunner

A lame analysis. There are many stretches of the M-Path that are quite pleasant - I'm a runner and have been using it for years, particularly the stretch from SW 15th Street to SW 17th Avenue in the Roads area. It's a well-utilized urban design touch for runners, pedestrians and cyclists in an otherwise automobile-oriented area and a great place to get in some urban exercise in pleasant surroundings. I'm with the previous posters - put as much money as is feasible into maintaining and expanding this hidden gem.

David
David

I use the M path every day to commute to work. Its amazing. I like the New Times. but you dont always have to be controversial to prove a point. sometimes you need to step back and ask are we sending out the right message. The M path is the best thing for cyclists we have. Throw all the money

jason
jason

M path is great - how about the palmetto expwy or 836 - permanent construction projects when east west metrorail should have been built instead.

Dabble D. Gook
Dabble D. Gook

Walk north or south on arterial road NW 42 AV from about NW 11 St to NW 36 St, Take several changes of underwear. This is not a limited access expressway. This was recently built with a lot of fancy landscaping and ornamental crushed stone pits for drainage and to look pretty. No sidewalk, no extra wide lane for bike use, no shoulder area. Thank FDOT district 6 & ask them why there is no sidewalk, or walk 1/2 mile over to NW 37 AV & half mile back to lejeune (NW 42 AV) , way safer but there will still be (much shorter) areas where you have to walk in the road, probably with your back to traffic some of the time. As for need, check the narrow areas of dirt path behind the barriers on the east side under the overpasses a few hundred feed south of NW 36 ST. Technical term for these artifacts of engineering malpractice against pedestrians is "goat path".

Dabble D. Gook
Dabble D. Gook

Er, ah ditto the M-Path users who have commented.Most of the bicyclist who would be using the M path are 40' up in the air on the last car of a metrorail train. I personaly think the bike path, kind of an economy model at that, is better use than just landscaping, and it gives the cyclist a bit of north-south travel path with reduced conflict with Miami's ever so courteous and cautious drivers when the cyclists get off the train.

Matthew Toro
Matthew Toro

This brutal honesty of most of this article makes for a painful, but very necessary, read.

However, I must strongly disagree with the inaccurate picture of the M-Path that's been unjustly painted as a waste.

I ride the M-Path regularly, and I know many other bikers who actively use, appreciate, and love the M-Path in a community that’s otherwise devoid of any multi-use urban trails. I think the M-Path, while far from perfect, should be one of the most celebrated pieces of non-motorized transport infrastructure in our county, even if for no other reason than its sheer existence in a community that lacks any comparable facilities.

Some of the specific criticisms aimed at the M-Path are irrefutable and important.

Is the M-Path highly disjointed? Unquestionably.

Does the M-Path have adequate signage. Absolutely not.

Are many of the M-Path crossings dangerous? Extremely so.

Does the design of the M-Path reflect a planning/design/construction bias toward automobiles? Regrettably so.

Does the M-Path have adequate lighting? No way.Is the M-Path wide enough? Not yet.

Should the M-Path be regarded as a waste of public monies simply because of its far-from-ideal design flaws – no way, José!

To suggest that the M-Path is a waste of money is a terrible falsehood. I’m personally very grateful to have the M-Path at my disposal. I use it regularly to access all the same destinations accessed by the Metrorail.

We have to remember that the “M-Path” refers to the “Metrorail-Path”, and the property on which the M-Path is located is actually county property. It’s a great use of otherwise neglected space, although, admittedly, it could be doing much more to serve the pedestrian and biker communities.

Is the M-Path ideal? – no way, but I must prefer having the M-Path than just a wasted scrubland occupying the space along the linear Metrorail.

Regarding the soon-to-be-finished multi-use footbridge and M-Path connection running through the Dadeland North Metrorail station, this is absolutely the right idea. The reason crosswalks were decided against is because the westbound traffic on the Snapper Creek expressway (SR 878) is free flowing (i.e., there is no stoplight there to allow for pedestrians or bikers to cross the Snapper Creek expressway. I’ve done that route many times (I did it just this past weekend!), and riding southbound down US-1 is quite an adventurous undertaking. That multi-use bridge will give walkers and bikers the necessary feeling of safety when crossing that expressway and continuing on through the newly widened sections of the M-Path.

Also, the new section of the M-Path will be widened and striped with two lanes.

The New Times would do better advocating for improvements to the M-Path to rectify its design flaws rather than inaccurately labeling it a rarely used waste of tax-payer money .

Yes, the M-Path is flawed, but it’s basically all we’ve got, and, to quote a famous British rock-band, “It’s getting better all the time”!

Markus
Markus

I respectfully disagree on the M-Path issue. Is it perfect? Absolutely not and there is valid criticism to be made, as pointed out by Rydel and Tony. But is it a decent solution for those having to travel in a direction (Grove - UM) that is otherwise incredibly busy and dangerous? Yes. And as for three cyclists, I see them every day while I'm commuting, so if you stick around for longer, I'm sure you will encounter more people. Its location is actually good as a connector - yes, it needs to be improved, but I for one am very glad it exists.

tjblaze
tjblaze

I know lots of people who use the M-Path. It is a great bicycle route from East Kendall to Downtown that also provides access to the UM and Coral Gables. It is far from perfect, but it is the best we have in off road facilities that connect with lots of useful places. Plus it has the redundancy of the rail, which is a good thing if a cyclist has mechanical or physical problems. Investing in the M-Path is a wise use of tax payer dollars and not very expensive in comparison with other transportation projects, like the 826/836 connection.

The bike/ped bridge over the Snapper Creek expressway was a strategic need. It enabled closure of a gap in the M-Path that existed since it was built in 1985. Up until this project is completed, the M-Path ends/ed at Ludlam Road. This project connects it with Dadeland South which also provides a connection to the Busway's wide sidewalk path all the way down to Florida City. When this project is completed next month, a cyclist will be able to ride off road from about 15th Road near Brickell Avenue all the way down to Florida City. The bridge in the project was needed because the entrance to the Snapper Creek Expressway includes two go at all times lanes - an impossible hazard to bikers and walkers. The presence of a goat path worn by bikers and walkers showed for years that people needed this connection. The bridge was the cheapest way to rectify the problem without disrupting traffic flow.

Sorry, but your reporting is sorely lacking on this item. You completely missed the significance of this project.

As gas prices rise and congestion gets worse, anything we do to improve transportation alternatives will be good for the community.

Mike Miller
Mike Miller

In Broward County they have wasted 6 million dollars on the "greenway" along 595, this is impossible to use as a bicyclist and very poorly thought out and very dangerous, not to mention a waste of money.

 
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