The proposed plan for the I-195 Julia Tuttle follows the same playbook of adding more lanes of traffic, without appropriately planning for dedicated transit services that have been promised on this corridor for decades. The plan encompasses the expansion of I-195 over Biscayne Bay and the construction of a double-decked section in the Wynwood district, aimed at segregating beach-bound traffic from downtown traffic.
While the project proposes a Shared Use Path for bikes and pedestrians, it does not deal with how they connect to existing infrastructure when they enter Miami and Miami Beach. This project brings a myriad of negative ramifications, ranging from exacerbating our climate crisis by encouraging more vehicles on the road to negatively affecting local businesses in the design district.
Below are 3 reasons to re-think and re-prioritize the project:
Reason 1: FDOT’s Project Fails to Prioritize Transit
On the FDOT Website for this project, the first priority listed is to “Provide Transit, Bicycle, and Pedestrian Improvements.” While the SMART Program promises a Bus Express Rapid Transit (BERT) lane on the Julia Tuttle, this plan ignores this and recommends moving the current outside shoulder use lane to the inside.
Our transit riders and bus operators have expressed that our shoulder lanes are dangerous and problematic, and we cannot continue making the same mistakes. Instead of widening the highway for cars, let’s add a proper dedicated BERT service to the Julia Tuttle.
While the Shared Use Path is promising, it does not address connectivity to the Miami Beach and Miami sidewalks and bike lanes, and this must be addressed for it to be successful.
Reason 2: The Project is Wasteful and Will Not Fix Traffic
Expanding the Julia Tuttle and double-decking the SR-112 Airport Express in Wynwood will not fix traffic. If widening highways fixed traffic, Los Angeles and Houston would be the best cities in America to commute in. Instead, as we add more and more lanes to our highways, we will continue to invite more traffic into the existing limited roads of Miami Beach.
Adding lanes to the Julia Tuttle will only create further bottlenecks when traffic has to spill out onto the beach. We must move beyond our approach of yesterday and move towards a future with more sustainable transit.
Reason 3: Double Decking the Airport Expressway and Widening the Julia Tuttle Will Harm Our Business Districts
The construction of the project and the added traffic on the double-decker highway without adequate transit service improvements ignore the thousands of service workers, visitors, and employees that rely on transit. If this prolonged project does not include reliable transit, it will not fix traffic and will adversely affect the thriving businesses in Midtown, Edgewater, Allapattah, Design District, and Wynwood.
This project risks lower air quality, and noise pollution, and will affect the quality of life and lead to a decline in visitors. The project also could offer an elevated, dedicated stop on the L Bus that would be useful for visitors and a link to Tri-Rail and Miami Beach.
Transit Alliance calls on FDOT to prioritize sustainable, equitable transportation solutions that protect our environment, support our businesses, and serve the needs of all residents. Not more highway expansion, but forward-thinking solutions that meet the difficulty of the problems at hand, instead of repeating past mistakes.