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April 17th, 2013

Public input will be key in upcoming Village-wide traffic study

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 Village-wide traffic analysis “underpinned by public involvement” will aim to solve Key Biscayne’s roadway congestion through a variety of solutions, with a heavy focus on getting people out of their cars and onto buses, bikes and their own two feet.
On Tuesday, April 8, the Village Council voted 4-2, with Council members Theo Holloway and Ed London in minority and Vice Mayor Michael Davey not present, to enter an $80,000 contract with The Corradino Group for a study expected to take nine months.
When the work is done, the Village will have a comprehensive list of prioritized projects it can implement as part of future Capital Improvements Plans.
Council member Jim Taintor, who proposed the project, was glad to see it move ahead: “I think the traffic problem needs to be addressed, and it needs to be addressed now, not later,” he said.
Mayor Frank Caplan agreed, and said he looks forward to hearing The Corradino Group’s ideas for multimodal forms of transportation. “We are either going to change behaviors in this society, or we are going to drown in traffic congestion,” he said.
On the 8th, Village Manager John Gilbert recommended working with The Corradino Group and paying for the work out of Key Biscayne’s unused share of Miami-Dade County’s half-penny transportation tax. The Village did not get bids from other firms because the study will be done by professional traffic planners from the American Institute of Certified Planners, something that drew concern from several Council members and sparked London’s no vote.
But a majority said they feel it’s important to start the project as quickly as possible, and they trust Gilbert’s recommendation that The Corradino Group – which has done work for the Village before– will do an excellent job. “We know the future has caught up with us, because we’re sitting in traffic all the time,” Caplan said, speaking to the urgency of the project. “I know Joe [Corradino]; I know his work; I know his company. I think I know the market.
“This is a scope of work we need, and the price is right.”
Scope of work
Council members got more detail on that scope of work at the April 8 meeting.
The Corradino Group submitted an extensive work proposal for a “transit mobility plan” that will take about nine months to create.
Public involvement will be crucial throughout, with plans for two public workshops: one to kick off the project, generate ideas and set goals; and a second toward the end of the task to vet and prioritize proposed solutions. Consultants will seek input from residents, staff, management, the Council and various stakeholder groups.
Joe Corradino told the Council, “It’s underpinned by a public involvement process … to figure out what the problems are and what the Village can do in terms of projects to fix them.”
Corradino said his firm will also review background information – existing Village reports, studies of peer cities, the demographics of Key Biscayne, etc. The Corradino Group has already studied the community’s population, finding several trends that will help guide its work:
Its report notes two-thirds of the island’s 13,000 residents don’t follow typical commuting patterns, so, “Peak hours may be different than in traditional communities.” There are also a lot of cars: of 4,347 households, only 166 don’t have a vehicle; 64 percent have more than one car.
On top of that, the study includes extensive data collection.
The Corradino Group plans to gather Village-specific traffic counts for cars, bikes, pedestrians and mass transit. It will study a variety of locations: numerous intersections on Crandon Boulevard, Harbor Drive, Woodcrest Road and Fernwood Road; as well as the Rickenbacker Toll Plaza, entry to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and facilities along the causeway.
A data analysis phase will follow, including extrapolating traffic numbers out to one decade from now. After that, Corradino said, his firm will use all the information it gathered to develop a list of projects complete with cost estimates and timelines.
The projects will cover several categories, including roadway, bike/pedestrian, transit and policy.
CIP-ready list
Finally, the consultant will prioritize projects in short-, mid- and long-term categories to present an implementation strategy. That will be part of its final report, which officials say can go straight into the Village’s Capital Improvements Plan.
While Corradino said the report can lead directly to implementation, he stressed his firm won’t be doing actual design work for the Village. While The Corradino Group may say, for example, that a traffic circle needs to be redesigned, it won’t be providing plans for that redesign.
“That would be a whole different level of analysis,” Corradino said.
Instead, Village Attorney Steve Helfman said, each of the firm’s suggested projects will go to the Council for implementation. Council members will vote on which projects to move forward with, and then obtain the required engineering and construction services to get the job done.
Multimodal key for the Key
When that happens, residents can expect projects that focus on all types of transportation.
Corradino said solutions will be multimodal, meaning biking, walking and mass transit – including County buses and the possibility of a Village shuttle – will play a key role, as would linkages between different types of transportation.
As The Corradino Group points out, multimodal options can “minimize congestion and enhance the quality of life for residents, businesses and workers.”
They suggest walking and biking, especially, could be useful in dense, compact Key Biscayne – assuming the primary concern, safety, is addressed.
With most of the island falling within a half-mile radius of Crandon, they note, “If the correct destinations exist, there should theoretically be high levels of pedestrians coming from in and out of the neighborhoods.”

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