Miami Beach Prepares For Art Basel Traffic, Raises Parking Rates
You can expect traffic delays in Miami Beach this week. Art Basel began on Thursday and runs through Sunday.
Miami Beach transportation director José González expects the number of cars coming in for the event to be similar to previous years.“Between the MacArthur Causeway and the Julia Tuttle Causeway, vehicular volumes go from about 200,000 to about 350,000 vehicles a day.”
Traffic increases dramatically in the city at this time of year. It is considered to be Miami Beach’s “high impact season,” which begins in late October and goes through Memorial Day. “We have a series of special events [in high impact season], but Art Basel has got to be the most significant,” says González.
In order to reduce vehicular congestion that “inevitably occurs during Art Basel”, González explains some of the measures that the city has taken to keep traffic flowing. “For about three years now, the city has engaged a contractor to actively manage and monitor traffic conditions throughout the city during our high impact season.”
González adds that as part of the traffic management effort the city has installed 32 cameras along with WiFi and Bluetooth devices at “critical intersections” throughout North Beach, Mid Beach and South Beach. Some of those intersections include Alton Road and Fifth Street, Indian Creek Drive and 41st Street and Collins Avenue and 23rd Street.
“The purpose of those devices is to gauge travel time. These devices measure the time that it takes a person to get from point A to point B,” says González. Then that estimated travel time information is announced through different signs along the streets and on the Internet. Another component to the city’s traffic plan is to make signal-timing changes at the intersections that have a lot of congestion. “In essence, what they [the engineers] are doing is extending the green light,” says González.
Do rising parking rates correlate to reducing city traffic?
The city has also hiked parking rates along the street to cut down on drivers circling for spaces. González says 30 percent of the city’s normal traffic congestion is caused by people searching for parking. “It is a high-demand space because they’re the most convenient,” says Saul Frances, Miami Beach’s Parking Department director.
Prices for street parking went up on Oct. 12. Rates on some streets in Miami Beach are now as high as $4 an hour. Frances says, “If you’re willing to park on the street, know that there is a premium to that.” He adds that on-street parking prices also have gone up in other cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Scott Sorg, who is visiting Miami from Washington, D.C., believes that the prices are “high.” “[Miami] rates are almost double what we pay usually [for street parking].”
Fabio López from Miami agrees. “I think they are a little expensive. I just paid $5 for over an hour. So I found it a little expensive if I’m going to park on the streets.”
Whether or not increases for on-street parking rates have reduced traffic in Miami Beach Frances says is “too soon to tell.” “What I can tell you is that we see that folks have been using more surface lots and garages.”
Public transit seems the way to go during Art Basel
The city of Miami Beach has been promoting the use of public transit through park-and-ride options like the water taxi at Purdy Marina, the city’s trolley and the Art Express bus, which premiered on Monday.
Alice Bravo, Miami-Dade transit director, says that four buses were selected from the existing fleet to become Art Express buses. “The approximate cost is $24,000 for theses buses for six days.” Bravo says that “since the Venetian Causeway is closed due to construction these buses will be running on a loop that goes from the Miami Beach Convention Center to Wynwood and the Design District.” The trolley will have a similar route.