I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Monday, June 19, 2006

When in Miami, do like the Miamians, and sit in traffic.

We have no public transportation in Miami. Okay...well, we do, but it's a joke. We have the Metromover which is an early 80s monorail system that loops through downtown and Brickell. We have the "Train to Nowhere" which is our one-line North-to-South Elevated Metro (which is useless to everyone, unless you happen to live in the Gables or Dadeland and work Downtown. Then, it can be pretty sweet riding the train into work just like you live in a real city, replete with bums pissing themselves in the seats, and pee sloshing up and down the train's floor at 8:15 a.m.) and we have the Miami Bus System, which I hope to God I will never have to take.

Besides the bus, the train and the Metromover serve an incremental sliver in the vast and expanding population of unwashed masses that comprises Miami.

The train only goes North-South. One line. Four cars. Oh, sure, it turns East-West and goes to...well, I really don't know where it goes after it jogs West after the Government Center stop, but that's really not my problem. I'm sure it cuts through some slums, before dead-ending at the Airport. Not close enough to the Airport, mind you, to be useful to actually GETTING to the Airport, not, say, like the Blue and Orange Line in D.C. that burps passengers steps from the ticketing counters. No, the train dumps you a good...I'd say a pedestrian un-friendly mile away from the terminal. Brilliant!

At Government Center (our "Metro Center" if you will, to phrase this in terms of the D.C. Metro) there is an odd looking platform below the main platform. A few years ago, I realized, that it was a partially-built East-West line, that was, apparently, abandoned around 1978. (Who knows? I'm just guessing.)

Given the current abominable state of traffic in Miami, and the growing outcry as they throw up even more 60-story condominiums without increasing road capacity, talk has once again shifted as it is wont to do every six months, to building more mass-transit. And it's a noble and wonderful idea. And it will NEVER. HAPPEN.

Currently, there are proposals on the table to link the Beach, via Washington Avenue, with the Design District, using a Light-Rail System. In theory, I guess it's a good idea, like that line in Boston that still runs. The Baltimore Light Rail is a disaster, but whatever, right? They'll never build the trolley in Miami, or if they do, they'll half-finish it so it's totally useless, no one will ride it, because it won't link up to anything useful, and it'll be another relic of Miami incompetence like the Metromover (which I lovingly refer to as "Summer Bum Air-Conditioning" because of all the homeless people that pass out during the summer months in the one Monorail car which as working a/c). As a result, there will be no more mass transit built in Miami, because future people will point their fingers at the very expensive, very un-finished, and very useless Design District trolley line and say, "SEE?! NO ONE USES MASS TRANSPORTATION! THESE IDEAS ALWAYS FAIL! INSTEAD OF SPENDING THE MONEY ON CIVIC IMPROVEMENT, WE SHOULD GIVE THE CITY COMMISSIONERS RAISES OF A MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR! YES, THAT'S WHAT WE SHOULD DO! LET'S PASS A RESOLUTION, WITHOUT VOTING ON IT, OR HEARING PUBLIC OPINION!"

Currently, there's a proposal being kicked around, extend the MetroRail East to West, along "the" 836, our East-West Highway. For those of you unfamiliar with the complex tangle of Miami "Expressways," we have about four main arteries. Running parallel to each other, North-South are I-95, which ends, and dumps into Route 1 (For all you guys up North, Yeah, 95 DOES end, isn't that weird!? And I live right near where it ends!), "The" 826 (a/k/a the Palmetto) and there's the Turnpike. The Turnpike is used only by people who have the audacity to live (1) too far South and (2) too far North and (3) too far West.

Running East-West we have "The" 836 (a/k/a the Dolphin "Expressway," or as I like to refer to it, the Blue Lagoon parking lot.) "The" 826 also jogs East-West up around the Broward County line at the Golden Glades, before angling South and becoming a North-South parking lot. "The" 826 has been under construction for the almost four years I've lived in Miami. And no, it will never be finished. I don't know what they're doing, they just like to throw up Jersey walls and orange cones, and make everyone's life miserable along that stretch, because it runs through Hialeah, Westchester, Miami Lakes and Medley, and the City likes causing traffic problems by confusing incompetent drivers with orange warning cones, causing the drivers to slam on their brakes and loudly ask "QUE?!"

Then while everyone's stopped, during the chorus of "Que," chickens and goats escape from the back of pickup trucks and run all over the road, and everyone laughs at Betty La Fea, who is ugly and stupid, and no one likes her and she will never get married! And, while all the drivers on the 826 are stopped on the road, laughing at Betty La Fea and watching other people chase livestock, 75% of drivers decide, "Hey! I need to get into my trunk to shuffle some things around! I might as well get out of my car while I'm stopped on the highway, and do that, right now, immediately, because it's a seriously pressing issue. I need to shift the carpet covering my bubble tire, and I have to do it NOW, even though I see that traffic is starting to move, because the chickens and goats have been corralled, and Betty La Fea is crying on the side of the Highway. No big deal. It'll just take me three minutes extra of being stopped on the highway, shuffling through my trunk. You don't have anywhere better to be, right? Than watching me rifle through my trunk? On the highway? Great."

Well, like I said. We have one east-west highway, basically. 836. And no mass transportation along that corridor. The City is talking about building an east-west rail line. That will NEVER happen, though, because that would make sense, alleviate traffic, and generally vastly improve the quality of life in this "fair city."

See this article, elaborating on why this project will be quashed, and how they're projecting to screw it up if, in the unimaginable unlikelihood that it actually gets built. I mean, FIU's argument seems totally cogent. Why should it sacrifice a few acres of campus to better the lives of the ENTIRE POPULATION OF MILLIONS? That's unreasonable. A better alternative is to keep the land, so that they'll have enough space to throw up a couple more buildings for mediocre professors to teach mediocre students.

Classic. Oh, and did you notice how we have a newspaper columnist exclusively dedicated to traffic issues? Howzabout THAT, D.C.!? You think you have traffic problems! Oh, sure you have Dr. Gridlock, but WE'VE got Larry Liebowitz!