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MIAMI -- In Miami, highways slice through almost every section of the city, separating neighborhoods and creating sprawl that threatens the surrounding environment. According to a new report from U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group, Miami is undertaking a five-year, nearly billion-dollar project to rebuild and add capacity to large sections of I-395 and SR-836 in Overtown, which would exacerbate the problems with urban sprawl and an over dependence on cars.
“To improve Miami’s transportation system, we have to reduce our reliance on cars and highways,” said Matt Casale, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Transportation Campaign director. “This project does the opposite, doubling down on a car-centric system that will damage the community and lead to more traffic and pollution.”
The Florida Department of Transportation and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority are marketing the “Connecting Miami” project as a community enhancement project, but images of the I-395’s proposed underdeck park show the unlikely scenario of people happily strolling just feet from high-speed traffic under I-395.
According to the Highway Boondoggles 5 report, the nearly one billion dollars would be better spent elsewhere. Instead of widening I-395, Florida could invest in street safety, transit and parks -- initiatives that are in line with the county’s long-range plan, which suggests an “emphasis on rapid transit, land use, densification, connectivity, [and] multimodal mobility.”
"Sometimes it's the infrastructure we don't build that makes all the difference," said Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, report co-author. "Cities from Dallas to Tampa to Milwaukee have discovered that ditching boondoggle highway projects has opened up new opportunities to build stronger, cleaner and more fiscally sustainable communities."
The report recommends that Florida cancel the Connecting Miami widening project and other proposed highway expansions, and instead invest in more effective solutions, such as road repair and transit expansion.
“Florida, like the rest of America, still has a misplaced appetite for costly and disruptive highway expansion projects. But if we’re smarter about how we spend our transportation dollars, we can achieve a more sustainable, affordable and better-functioning transportation system,” said Casale. “That means avoiding spending billions of dollars on harmful, wasteful projects such as the I-395 widening.”
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