Updated 4 yearss ago
Trains and Traffic
Florida East Coast Industry’s Brightline Miami-to-Orlando passenger rail service is testing its first train and will debut its first phase this summer, with trains running from downtown Miami to downtown Fort Lauderdale and on to downtown West Palm Beach. The company says each segment of the trip will take 30 minutes. In downtown Miami, construction is moving quickly on the company’s MiamiCentral, an intermodal hub that will link Brightline with Miami-Dade’s Metrorail and Metromover mass-transit systems, plus the three-county Tri-Rail — the first time Tri-Rail comes into downtown Miami. MiamiCentral’s six city blocks also will include 300,000 square feet of office space; 180,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, including a food hall; and 800 apartments.
Meanwhile, Miami-Dade’s department of transportation and public works is spending $160 million over five years to upgrade its Advanced Traffic Management System, which attempts to tackle the county’s notorious traffic by monitoring vehicles and signals and controlling them through a combination of automation and human decisions. The heart of the improved system will be the county’s Traffic Management Center, which opened in August 2016.
In an effort to address crime and poverty in Miami’s Liberty City area, the county is redeveloping the 55-acre Liberty Square, a public housing community that is home to 600 families and was built in the 1930s under Jim Crow segregation laws (it was also the location for a number of scenes in the movie Moonlight). Related Group’s Related Urban Development division won the $307-million county contract for the redevelopment and management of the community, which will include more than 1,500 public, affordable, elderly and workforce housing units. The new Liberty Square will also have a grocery store, community center, YMCA, community health center, school and other retail space. Construction is slated to begin by this summer and take five years. It will be the county’s largest public housing project.
Monroe County commissioners in January began the process of setting interim standards that will address sea level rise by raising elevation requirements for county road projects. It’s working on two pilot projects using those standards: Raising portions of roads by 5 inches in Key Largo’s Twin Lakes community and raising portions of roads by 11 inches in the Sands area on Big Pine Key. The county is also updating elevation data for its 300 miles of roads to determine which are at greatest risk for tidal flooding. The county will then use that research, plus the results of the pilot projects, to set final roadway elevation standards.
Since 2006, flooding caused by rains has increased 33% in Miami Beach, and tidal flooding has increased 400%. In 2014, the city began $400 million in projects to protect it from rising tides, floodwaters, sea level and water that is likely to creep up from the porous limestone on which it’s built. Projects include raising streets by as much as 2½ feet, as well as installing a series of valves and pumps, and two major pumping stations, to move stormwater quickly away from city streets. When the project is done, the city will have 80 new pumps and several miles of raised roads.
People to Watch
Alice N. Bravo: In February 2016, Alice Bravo took over the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works, a new department that runs Miami-Dade transit, traffic operations, highway planning, taxi services, bridges, the county’s new wifi kiosks and more.
Moishe Mana: The developer won approval for his 9.72-million-sq.-ft. Mana Wynwood project, which will include residential units, offices, retail, art galleries, museums and a technology innovation center. He has announced his first major project — a micro-unit apartment building in Miami —and has negotiated an air rights deal with the Miami Parking Authority and Grand Station Partners that could allow him to build a high-rise in Miami, near the MiamiCentral transit hub.
Carlos Migoya: The CEO of Jackson Health System has righted the financial ship. But repeal of the Affordable Care Act could impact Jackson. Plus, federal funding to hospitals that care for the uninsured has been drastically cut and will likely end this summer.
Julio Frenk: Julio Frenk, who became the University of Miami’s president in 2015, last year unveiled a “roadmap” for growing the university. His plans for the next decade include building an innovation hub at the university, securing funds for 100 additional endowed faculty positions, creating a consortium of research universities throughout the Americas and growing the University of Miami Health System (known as Uhealth).
Natalia Martinez-Kalinina: Although the Miami outpost of the Cambridge Innovation Center, a startup-support organization, opened only in October, by February it had already worked with 150 clients and held 248 events. Natalia Martinez-Kalinina, its general manager, oversees management of the first, third and sixth floors of Converge Miami, the 252,000-sq.-ft. facility formerly called the UM Life Science and Technology Park.
County Population: 2.75 million, Ï+5.3% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 15.2%
Per Capita Income: $44,907
MIAMI — PortMiami set a world record in 2016, with 4.98 million multiday cruise passengers — up 1.5% from 2015. It handled 1.03 million TEUs (20-foot container equivalents) of containerized cargo — up 2% from the previous year. Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean Cruises recently began constructing a $200-million terminal to accommodate the company’s largest cruise ships. The state allocated another $33 million to the port to help pay for expanding another cruise terminal to accommodate mega- sized cruise ships, procuring three more gigantic Super-Post-Panamax cranes, upgrading cargo terminal yards and exploring a potential inland intermodal facility.
MIAMI-DADE — The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department is just a few years into the county’s largest capital improvement program: $13.5 billion of upgrades to pipes, pump stations and treatment plants for water and wastewater, to be built over two decades. > A new park-and- ride bus station, with nearly 850 parking spaces, is under construction near State Road 836 and the Homestead Extension of Florida’s Turnpike. Dolphin Station Park & Ride will be a transit hub for express bus service on State Road 836, connecting western parts of the county with major employment sites. > The South Florida Water Management District has begun several construction projects designed to funnel freshwater to Florida Bay. The bay is suffering after a 22,000-acre seagrass die-off in 2015 caused by high salt levels.
The county agreed to purchase 300 buses that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and will build CNG fueling stations at two county bus garages that will be available to the public. > Massachusetts-based CIVIQ Smartscapes is installing kiosks offering free wifi around Miami- Dade County transit stops and other locations and will offer free wifi on public transit buses and trains. > Miami- Dade, one of AT&T’s Smart Cities framework pilot centers, was the first to launch the company’s Smart Cities Operation Center. It’s a single location with real-time monitoring of police and public safety functions, as well as other data, using Internet of Things technology. Also as part of the Smart Cities initiative, the county will upgrade to smart LED lighting and be able to tap into better data around transportation planning and traffic flows at intersections. > Spain-based Telefonica is expanding its data center (the KeyCenter) in the county with $9 million in new capital investments — including upgrading the center to become the only Uptime Institute Certified Tier III Facility in south Florida. > South Miami-based non-profit Baptist Health South Florida opened its $430-million Miami Cancer Institute, an academic-community cancer center that is the third full member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance and includes south Florida’s first precision-treatment proton therapy radiation center.
County Population: 78,894, Ï+5.2% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 14.0%
Per Capita Income: $75,040
MONROE COUNTY — The county’s unemployment rate of 3.0% is the lowest in Florida. > The Key West Tourist Development Association hired a new company to produce its annual 10-day Fantasy Fest. A partnership between Wonderdog Studios and We’ve Got the Keys replaces Market Share, which produced the event for 27 years but closed at the end of 2016.