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The Sunshine Economy

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez Discusses Transportation In The Sunshine Economy

Tom Hudson
Passengers wait at Government Center in Miami on May 7, 2018. Public transit ridership has been dropping in Miami-Dade and Broward counties for several years in a row.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez thinks that transportation woes in the region have gotten worse, but he thinks drivers have become more courteous.

Those two statements came at the beginning and at the end of an interview with the mayor focused on transportation in the region.

This is how we started our interview:

WLRN: Would you agree that transportation is in crisis in Miami-Dade County?

Gimenez: No. Does it need improvement? Yes, it does. Has it gotten worse? Yes, it has. 

And this is how it ended:

WLRN: Are you saying Miami drivers have gotten better?

Gimenez: I have found them to be a little more cooperative. They allow you to come in when before they didn't do that. We're friendlier. We're all in the same situation. 

In-between, we spoke with the mayor about a number of pressing transportation issues:

• The proposed extension of State Road 836 (aka The Kendall Parkway). The mayor supports it: "It is certainly one of my priorities."

• The SMART Plan -- six targeted corridors for public transit.  The mayor has changed his mind on the mode of transportation targeted for these routes. He wants flexibility by "putting stations down that area convertible to whatever future use."

* The drop in public transportation ridership. The mayor attributes the drop over the past several years to gas prices, the improved job market and "the advent of Uber and Lyft."

Credit AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao chats with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, at Miami International Airport.

• Regional transportation planning: "There isn't as much communication [on transportation] between the counties as there should be."

• Traffic light synchronization. "The entire road network of Miami-Dade County within the next three to four years will have adaptive traffic signals."

He says synchronizing traffic lights and having the system adapt to traffic flow will lead to "10 to 15 percent improvement in mobility just on our roads in Miami-Dade County."

In a journalism career covering news from high global finance to neighborhood infrastructure, Tom Hudson is the Vice President of News and Special Correspondent for WLRN. He hosts and produces the Sunshine Economy and anchors the Florida Roundup in addition to leading the organization's news engagement strategy.