Bowing to persistent pressure from Brickell residents, bicycle and pedestrian activists, and city and county officials, state roadway engineers have agreed to reduce speeds along busy Brickell Avenue, as well as add crosswalks and “share-the-road” markings to improve safety.
The changes will be incorporated into a year-long,$9 million resurfacing of the 1.6-mile state road that is slated to begin in January, Gus Pego, district secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation, said Tuesday.
Pego stressed that the agency agreed to the bike- and pedestrian-friendly measures after new engineering studies conducted in the past few weeks found them to be justified.
“We’ve been responsive to the issues brought to us,” Pego told The Miami Herald.
The alterations to the resurfacing project mark a significant concession by FDOT. Agency engineers had until recently insisted they could make few of the changes demanded by residents, activists and local officials.
Critics argued that a shortage of crosswalks forced people to jaywalk and complained speeding cars imperil the growing number of pedestrians and joggers along the avenue, the spine of Miami’s densest district — a rapidly changing area that residents and city planners envision as a walkable, bikeable urban neighborhood.
The dynamic began to shift for several reasons. Last month, a 30-year Brickell Bay Club resident, Rosa Encalada, 83, was struck and killed by a taxi as she tried to cross the avenue on a Sunday evening.
FDOT engineers, meanwhile, took a verbal beating from angry residents and activists at a public meeting last week and in blog posts by TransitMiami.com and the South Florida Bicycle Coalition.
And public officials — including Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff and Miami-Dade Commissioner Carlos Gimenez — intervened forcefully with Pego.