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NEWS

April 3th, 2013

Council hears expert’s ideas on traffic solutions; vote April 8

O

 ptions to solve Key Biscayne’s traffic woes could include promoting walking and creating a trolley system – just a couple of the possibilities mentioned by an expert poised to help the Village Council create a plan aimed at easing congestion community-wide.
Joe Corradino from The Corradino Group, who worked for the Village on projects related to the Key Biscayne Community Center and Fire-Rescue station, addressed the Council Tuesday, March 11, regarding how his firm can help the Village improve traffic flow.
Local leaders voted 4-2 to direct Village Manager John Gilbert to bring back a professional services agreement with The Corradino Group next month for Council action. Council member Michael Kelly was absent, and Vice Mayor Michael Davey and Council member Ed London voted no due based on their desire to get competitive bids.
Corradino estimated the study will cost $50,000-$90,000, depending on the final scope of work. The Village could use some of its $468,000 worth of unused Miami-Dade County half-penny transportation tax funding to pay for the study.
Council member Jim Taintor suggested the Village-wide traffic study in January, and on March 11 he remarked, “We know we have a traffic problem, and it’s getting worse. We need some experts to help solve that problem as soon as possible.”
Enter The Corradino Group, which Gilbert recommended based on its expertise and familiarity with the Key. Gilbert said Corradino can address the problem from both an engineering perspective and through innovative ideas aimed at less reliance on cars: “He has ideas for getting people out of their cars and into different types of transportation,” he said.
On the 11th, Corradino detailed some of his ideas and the process he’ll use to develop an overall “shovel-ready” plan for the Village.
“We need to figure out what’s broken, what’s not broken and what are the options to fix what’s broken,” he said, adding from there he’ll focus on how much those options cost and which ideas have public support. “We’ll have public involvement the whole way through the process.”
The Corradino Group, which has handled numerous municipal transportation master plans and traffic studies, plans a “bottom-up” approach, starting with input from Council members, Village staff and residents. Corradino said experts will also collect data, make projections for the future and analyze best practices from other communities before developing a project list.
From there, he said, the company will prioritize the projects based on community response, cost, feasibility, effectiveness, etc., and then provide the Council with an implementation strategy that can go straight into its five-year Capital Improvements Plan.
Corradino said the study will fully consider Key Biscayne’s unique characteristics.
Citing the island’s one-way-in, one-way-out access, he said the study would include not only interior streets, but the Rickenbacker Causeway and even roadways just outside the toll plaza, in order to get an idea of who comes and goes from the Village each day.
Demographics are also essential:
Corradino said Key Biscayne is full of the “young and not so young,” meaning there are lots of kids under 18 and their parents and grandparents, but fewer residents between 18 and 34. Along with residents and snowbirds, he’ll consider tourists and people who work on the island.
What the demographics amount to, Corradino noted, is that “a lot of people are here all day long and don’t leave the island, and circulate within it.”
Meanwhile, Corradino plans to research what some say is the root of Key Biscayne’s congestion: its own residents’ reliance on cars. He said 97 percent of residents have cars and 67 percent have two cars, while only 1 percent use mass transit and just 3 percent walk.
Local leaders agreed with Corradino’s assessment, but said the trick is finding fixes.
As Davey asked after Corradino’s presentation: “So, what’s the answer?”
Corradino explained there could be any number of answers. “I don’t think you can fix it just by widening roads,” he said. “But there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
Multi-modal options could work well on the Key, Corradino said; one suggestion he made is to require local employees to park off the island and take a shuttle into town.
Trolleys are another possibility, Corradino noted, based on an idea from Taintor. The Corradino Group has helped Doral, Palmetto Bay, Aventura and several other cities develop trolley systems, and he noted success would depend on whether residents wanted to use the service.
And, as Mayor Frank Caplan noted, promoting use of Miami-Dade County buses can also help.
Corradino will likely also suggest encouraging pedestrianism, noting the Village could establish wider sidewalks, more shade, longer crosswalk times, better ramps, etc. to make it more comfortable for people to walk to the places they need to go.
“How do we make walkable places?” he asked. “That’s definitely a component of transportation that is often overlooked.”
Council members gave Corradino some more food for thought.
Caplan mentioned the island’s parking shortage, which often keeps cars on the streets as they circle looking for a spot, but said there may be no obvious solution. If Corradino finds that to be the case, the Mayor said, doing nothing could be the best option because the situation may be self-regulating as people decide to walk or use mass transit.
Corradino said there’s always a sensitivity about adding parking, as it provides capacity for more cars to make their way to the Key.
“The do-nothing approach is always something you have to analyze,” he said.
Council members also suggested some new ways of looking at local demographics.
Caplan said the study needs to consider redevelopment of the island’s east side and how many new residents and cars that may bring, while London wants to know if the number of cars in the Village will change as younger residents start driving and older residents decide to give up the privilege.

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