Miami-Dade County commissioners on Tuesday rejected a controversial proposal to extend the Dolphin Expressway toward Kendall over concerns the plan would lead to unwanted westward development.
The proposed extension was intended to reduce traffic west of Florida’s Turnpike. It would have required a modification to the rules for the county’s Urban Development Boundary (UDB), allowing the expressway to be constructed about a mile beyond the boundary. Critics said the proposal would spur construction that would take farmland out of production and threaten the Everglades.
"If you build it, they will come,” said Homestead resident Pat Malone, addressing members of the county’s Government Operations Committee prior to their vote. “Moving the UDB or allowing MDX [Miami-Dade Expressway Authority] to extend 836 into southwest Dade would open the floodgates for high-density building and result in ever-worsening traffic congestion.”
The commissioners on the committee agreed, voting 3-2 against the proposal. Commissioners Dennis Moss, Rebeca Sosa and Xavier Suarez opposed the extension.
“If we allow this, you know, we’re not sanctioning moving the UDB,” Moss said. “But you know what’s going to happen. We know how this thing goes in Miami-Dade County. Folks who have property out there and want to develop it, I mean, that would be the green light.”
Commissioners Jean Monestime and Joe Martinez supported forwarding the proposal to the full commission.
Many Kendall-area residents said an 836 extension is crucial to reducing traffic that currently forces them to spend an hour and a half or more commuting to downtown Miami or the airport.
“On any given day that I have to leave Kendall to get anywhere by 8, 9 o’clock in the morning, it will take me at least an hour and a half to two hours, if I’m lucky,” Kendall West resident Leslye D’Anglade told the committee before the vote. “I feel for the Everglades, I hear the farmland issues, and I am torn on that perspective. However, we are already here. We are already in Kendall.”
Several people who spoke during a comment period said they think a compromise would be to put funds intended for the expansion towards transit in southwest Miami-Dade.
The Urban Development Boundary and transit were also popular topics at a town hall on Miami-Dade’s Comprehensive Development Master Plan that took place in Highland Lakes on Tuesday night. The county is in the midst of a state-mandated evaluation of the plan, and through town halls and an online survey, staff members from various county departments are collecting public input.
Edward Adames said he wants the county to improve its transit system to reduce traffic woes.
“You have to deal with people’s autonomous way of using their own cars whenever they want, and that’s it. You can’t work around it,” he said.
Adames said he supports the county’s Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) Plan, which would provide light rail along six major travel corridors and express buses elsewhere.
“Just hurry up.” he said. “Get the money and get it going.”
There’s a final public input meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday at the South Dade Regional Library in Cutler Bay.