I attended the community meeting last night at City Hall regarding the County's flood water drainage project on Main Highway. As most know by this point, the county plans to dig up Main Highway from Johnny Rockets to Calamari over a seven month period in six phases to install new drainage pipes as well as a filtering holding tank that will keep plastic and debris from exiting to the bay.
The result of this project will be one way traffic on Main Highway (northbound only) until it is complete which could cripple local business in the Grove and create danger and congestion on the small back streets of the South and West Grove as commuters look for short cuts to avoid Main.
The meeting last night was the classic case of the City deflecting the concern of the neighbors toward the County who is running this project. However, our Commissioner should be working in concert with the county from the very beginning to make sure that the interests of the residents are well represented.
It seems the main debate last night was over what flavor of major construction we would end up with. Choose A or B. Bike lane or no bike lane. Extra sidewalks or not. In my opinion, however, and that of many others voicing concern, the main question should not be what bells and whistles we want on the drainage project, but rather whether or not the massive project should happen in the first place.
A few key questions were asked last night that revealed that the testing and planning have all focused on what the new drainage capacity will be. However, there has been NO testing as to the capacity and function of the current system. The entire plan has been brought about over a few complaints of puddles and some photos. For a project of this size that will disrupt the livelihood of business and the quality of life of residents, proper testing should be done to determine if there is a problem that really needs addressing in this way. Anecdotal complaints are not enough. In fact, Mr. Barrios from the county finally admitted that the project is a pre-emptive strike to avoid a failure of the system in the future. So there actually is no urgent call or need for this total replacement to take place.
The only standing water I see after a major rain is against the curb in a few places where there is no actual drain. This is not a problem of pipes, but rather of grading, or poorly placed drains. I imagine this could be spot fixed without tearing up the entire roadway for nine months.
While a bike lane would be nice, I do not know if it is worth losing the center turn lane on Main hwy which definitely helps keep the flow flowing. However, the bike lane shouldn't be the main conversation. Instead the conversation should focus on WHY this project is being done.
I recommend actual flood testing to see what the capacity is of the current system. Establish a need before taking action. Locate any specific root intrusion and spot fix if necessary. This street is one of the highest points in the area. It is a ridge with natural shedding. Sure, major rain would leave standing puddles. But the catastrophic failure scenario of the 10 or 20 year storm should not be the cause for this action. Save the major work for when it can be coordinated with other projects and is very very needed. Business and residents shouldn't suffer for an unnecessary project.
Prioritize South Bayshore that truly has a flooding issue right now.
Candidate for Commissioner
Miami District 2