Walkable West Palm Beach


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Let the Miami City Commission know: I support Tri-Rail Coastal link into Downtown Miami!

Why We Need Tri-Rail into Downtown Miami in 2016

[copied from Friends of Tri-Rail Coastal Link]

The new TriRail Connection at All Aboard Florida’s MiamiCentral would open just in time for drivers to avoid the looming five-year nightmare on I-95 south of Golden Glades.

Just when you thought getting into Downtown Miami couldn’t get any worse, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announces the most significant I-95 project in Miami-Dade since the installation of toll express lanes.  FDOT plans to replace pavement and make other upgrades between NW 8th and NW 79th streets starting in 2017. The project will take five years, snarling traffic into and out of Downtown Miami until the year 2022.

See:  Miami Herald “Rough road ahead: Major I-95 redo project to take 5 years” – 3/16/2015 at http://goo.gl/HhPnDV

South Floridians deserve better – and one solution stands right in front of us:  Bring Tri-Rail into Downtown Miami at All Aboard Florida’s new MiamiCentral Station in 2016.

The opportunity for Tri-Rail to provide 26 direct trains per weekday from all points north on the existing Tri-Rail system into Downtown Miami could alleviate this nightmare, and it’s critical to the future development of public transit in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. This is a smart investment in Miami’s transportation and economic future.  It would not only realize Tri-Rail service to Downtown Miami, but also integrate All Aboard Florida, Metrorail, MetroMover, the Miami-Dade County bus system and Tri-Rail into an intermodal transit center with connections to all parts of Miami-Dade County, South Florida and even the Orlando/Central Florida area.

This project would mark the beginning of Tri-Rail Coastal Link, which would provide commuter rail from Jupiter all the way south to Miami, along the FEC railway tracks. It would be impossible to overstate the importance of Tri-Rail Coastal Link to our region’s future prosperity and mobility.

This may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to propel our public transit system into the 21st Century.

Let’s make this connection!

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

On Thursday, March 26th, the City of Miami City Commission is scheduled to vote on a proposal to negotiate a “financial assistance package” to connect and build a Tri-Rail terminus at All Aboard Florida’s new MiamiCentral Station scheduled to open in 2016.

According to the Miami Herald, Mayor Tomás Regalado says he will “veto any attempt to pay for the project with city money”. Regardless of how you feel on specific funding proposals, it’s important to let the Mayor and Commissioners know how vital this Tri-Rail Connection is.

Send the message that:  I support the Tri-Rail Connection to Downtown Miami at the new All Aboard Florida MiamiCentral Station!


Email today:

Mayor Tomas P. Regalado – tregalado@miamigov.com

Commissioner Wifredo (Willy) Gort (Chairman) – wgort@miamigov.com

Commissioner Marc Sarnoff – msarnoff@miamigov.com

Commissioner Frank  Carollo – fcarollooffice@miamigov.com

Commissioner Francis Suarez – fsuarez@miamigov.com

Commissioner Keon Hardemon (Vice Chairman) – KHardemon@miamigov.com

City Manager Daniel J.Alfonso – citymanager@miamigov.com

For your copying and pasting ease:

tregalado@miamigov.com

wgort@miamigov.com

msarnoff@miamigov.com

fcarollooffice@miamigov.com

fsuarez@miamigov.com

KHardemon@miamigov.com

citymanager@miamigov.com


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Welcoming those arriving by train, bus, or by bike to Downtown West Palm Beach

The Jeff Speck Walkability study pointed out there is a need to provide a cycle track to connect the multimodal center (Amtrak, Trirail, Greyhound, Palm Tran) to downtown and the All Aboard Florida train station. Since the City has a grant funded project to improve Fern St. and Datura and Evernia will be closed at the FEC tracks, then Fern St. appears to make the most logical choice for the cycle track, right? Maybe. Even though Datura and Evernia will be closed at the FEC tracks, both of these streets have some advantages over Fern. We will start with an exhaustive update on our recommendations for Fern St. and follow with a brief discussion of the pros and cons for Datura or Evernia. It is important to note that Evernia and Fern are twin streets. What is proposed for Fern will work for Evernia.

A prior post on Fern St. included a poll for options and the winners were the tree lined median bicycle boulevard options such as this one shown in the walkablewpb sketchup drawing:

Proposed Fern St. - WalkableWPB poll winner

Proposed Fern St. – WalkableWPB poll winner

Here is a reminder of today’s Fern St.:

Fern_Street_view_ugly

Existing Fern St.

When you hear Fern you probably think of a forest of trees and not the current forest of asphalt and concrete.

Here is the City’s initial grant proposal for Fern St.:

Fern Street cross section

Fern Street cross section

As we discussed in the prior post; the City’s preliminary proposal was to retain the head in angled parking and add sharrows. Sharrows and head in angled parking aren’t a good mix, especially for a street that provides a connection from a transit hub to downtown.

Here is a streetmix section of the WalkableWPB winner:

Fern St.

Proposed – Fern St.

This design is truly in keeping with its namesake, Fern St. The street could become a truly sustainable green street where depaved areas allow stormwater to infiltrate into the ground as it does in nature and the tree canopy would reduce the urban heat island effect. In the middle of the sidewalk you will note the proposed bioswales. Below is a photo of real bioswales that are a great fit for Fern St. A 3′ wide parking egress zone is provided behind the curb. This design is low cost since you can just de-pave a portion of the existing 13′ wide sidewalk. In photo you will notice that the  existing sidewalk was retained on the building side.  Small curb cuts are provided with ornemental metal trench grates to convey storm water from the road to be infiltrated into the de-paved areas of the sidewalk. Detailed drawings of this bioswale installation are provided at the end of the post.

SW 12th Street bioswale, Photo by Kevin Perry, Bureau of Environmental Services, City of Portland

SW 12th Street bioswale, Photo by Kevin Perry, Bureau of Environmental Services, City of Portland

Couple the green street with a comfortable median Bicycle Boulevards such as those found in downtown Winter Garden Florida and in our nation’s capital on Pennsylvania Avenue. Here are a few links real streets with these facilities :

Fern St. could become a world class gateway to our downtown. The one issue is that the WalkableWPB winner may exceed what the City has budgeted for this project. It amazes me that we spend hundred of thousands of dollars providing landscaping at the I-95 Okeechobee interchange to welcome cars to our downtown, but we have a shoe string budget to welcome cyclists to our City. Bike tourism is real. If we had decent bike facilities I could see plenty of tourists using a bike share at the multi-modal center to tour downtown West Palm Beach.

The case for Datura and Evernia:

Both of these streets provide a more direct route to the multimodal center than Fern. Both streets will have significantly less traffic than Fern. Datura is interesting in that it has a wonderful terminating vista view of the historic Seaboard train station.

Seaboard train station - view from Datura

Seaboard train station – view from Datura

Note the arched front entrance of the station that would welcome the cycle track.

A con is that both streets will terminate at the FEC tracks and can not provide a direct route to Flagler. The proposed connector street along the west side of the FEC could mitigate this. Perhaps a separate bicycle rail crossing could be provided north or south of the station to mitigate the loss of the Datura and Evernia rail crossings.

As stated earlier, Evernia could look exactly like what is proposed for Fern St. Datura St. is more challenging as it has a narrower right of way and large FPL electrical transmission poles at the curb line. Converting Datura to a one-way street with a two way cycle track and angled parking on one side of the street is an inexpensive option that would equal or exceed the current on-street parking yield. Here is a possible section for Datura:

Datura - Cycle track option

Datura – Cycle track option

In the comments let us know your ideas on how to best make a cycle connection between the multi-modal center and the All Aboard Florida station.

Bioswale Details:

SW 12th St. Portland Oregon image courtesy of Sustainable Stormwater Management Program

SW 12th St. Portland Oregon
image courtesy of Sustainable Stormwater Management Program

SW 12th St. bioswale section - image courtesy of Sustainable Stormwater Management Program

SW 12th St. bioswale section – image courtesy of Sustainable Stormwater Management Program


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Palm Beach Post features Walkable West Palm Beach opinion letter regarding Tri-Rail Coastal Link

In case you missed it, the Post published an opinion piece this past weekend from Walkable West Palm Beach. The letter is copied below.

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Recent comments from Palm Beach County Commissioner Hal Valeche suggesting that Tri-Rail’s Coastal Link be scrapped are very disconcerting. The Coastal Link is the best response we have to our regional transportation challenges. It would be transformative, linking all the major downtowns in our region and propelling South Florida forward.

The amount of transit-oriented development already taking place around the All Aboard Florida project stations is immense. Imagine if a true commuter rail line were operating — and how much the county tax base would rise — once almost every major city in Palm Beach County and the region are connected via commuter rail.

These towns and cities originally developed around rail lines. For decades, we’ve relied upon huge governmental transfer payments to fund new road construction, at the expense of our existing neighborhoods and cities. In these cities, the infrastructure is already in place, the walkable street grid largely exists, and the return on public investment is high.

Recent trends indicate the demand for more walkable places. This project would position South Florida well into the future.

I strongly urge all county commissioners to publicly support the Coastal Link project and to do whatever it takes to secure funding. We need to fund this project now, while we can leverage the private investment All Aboard Florida has already made.

JESSE BAILEY, WEST PALM BEACH

Editor’s note: Jesse Bailey founded the Walkable West Palm Beach blog, walkablewpb.com.


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Bike group wants trail to parallel All Aboard Florida

Rails-to-Trail conservancy leading the charge for a multiuse trail along the FEC right of way. Get behind this campaign – sign the petition now:
https://secure2.convio.net/rtt/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=491

Follow http://fecgreenway.org/ to keep up to date on the effort to create a rail with trail along the FEC right of way.

Real Time

downloadThe Rails to Trails Conservancy is pushing All Aboard Florida to allow for a multi-use bike and walking trail to be constructed in the Florida East Coast Railway’s right of way.

The national nonprofit group, which is dedicated to creating a network of trails, including from former rail lines, says not including a parallel pathway to All Aboard Florida “would be an outdated piece of transportation infrastructure that would fail to mitigate traffic congestion, mobility and environmental impacts.”

All Aboard Florida is a planned express passenger service between Miami and Orlando that will run 32 trains per day on the FEC tracks. The trains are expected to travel at speeds between 79 mph and 125 mph.

The plan for the additional trains includes adding a double track to much of the route.

According to a press announcement released yesterday, Rails to Trails Florida Director Ken Bryan said including walking…

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New street planned in downtown WPB as part of All Aboard Florida station

A key component to the downtown master plan (DMP) is the creation of new streets in strategic locations to break up block length and facilitate more fine-grained urban infill. One of these streets is planned to run adjacent to the FEC right of way, on its west side, connecting Clematis Street south to Cityplace. This street is designated as a “Primary Pedestrian Street” in the DMP, which means it is to prioritize pedestrians and create an excellent experience. The area in which the All Aboard Florida station is proposed is the “Quadrille Business District”, per the DMP. The intent of this district:

Intent. The Quadrille business district is intended to be the main office core for downtown, and a link between the city’s two main retail centers: CityPlace and Clematis Street. It includes the greatest capacity for commercial development and building heights in the downtown and focuses the most intense development along Quadrille Boulevard to create a signature office corridor. The city will enhance Quadrille Boulevard as an urban parkway through streetscape improvements. Incentives are offered for the dedication of right-of-way (ROW) which will allow for the construction of a new road adjacent to the west side of the FEC ROW between Gardenia Street and Clematis Street. The new road will create a frontage for the QBD and promote an active urban environment. Proposed development in the QBD should consist of iconic buildings which respect the scale of Clematis Street and Rosemary Avenue by stepping down building heights along those corridors. Rosemary shall be the main pedestrian street with active use liners and ground floor active uses. Additionally, this district shall create a strong connection with the Northwest Neighborhood by extending the street grid from Banyan Boulevard to 2nd Street.

In Jeff Speck’s walkability presentation, he commented on the harmful impact that closing Datura and Evernia Streets will have to the urban fabric of downtown. To mitigate this impact, Speck says All Aboard Florida needs to employ good urban design. This means creating a real urban street as required in the DMP, hiding parking, and bringing buildings up to the street to create a continuous frontage along the street edge.

Getting this new street right is very important to the economic health of downtown as it will be the connection between the station, CityPlace, and Clematis. It will be the first impression visitors to West Palm Beach receive, and it will make redevelopment of land adjacent to it more feasible. Datura and Evernia closures were not planned as part of the downtown master plan. This new street can help mitigate the negative impacts, but it must be a high quality street design. Let’s take a page out of Victor Dover’s excellent new book, “Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns” and make an quality, memorable street here.

Here is a link with some inspirations:

 


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New Urbanism 101

Another thought-provoking piece from Tim Hullihan’s blog about the All Aboard Florida station in downtown West Palm Beach. As our City leaders and planning department engages with All Aboard Florida, let’s hope these considerations are kept front and center.

Timothy Hullihan, architect and freelance writer

City Planners of the past understood many things that New Urbanists are trying to reteach us today.  For close to 35 years now, New Urbanists have help numerous cities and towns bring back the charm and comfort to neighborhoods and city streets that was common place before the automobile made us blind to the benefits of a pedestrian lifestyle.

Some of the most important lessons to be relearned show how urban planning and architecture must work together for the highest and best results.  The importance of bringing focus to beautifully designed public buildings, for example, is an important component in developing and sustaining community pride.  Pride in one’s community is, after all, “the origin of all great works” in a community, as the 17th Century British architect Sir Christopher Wren so aptly put it.

Many historic town plans, and some of those newly created and restored by New Urbanists, place…

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AAF’s WPB Terminal Needs More Design Options

This alternative design concept for the West Palm Beach station shows one street closing rather than two, and emphasizes the station with a terminated vista on Evernia Street. Our WPB station deserves to be well-thought out like the recently unveiled Miami station.
As stated from the AAF press release:
“In Miami, the passenger rail system will be elevated 50 feet to align with existing public transportation systems, with retail spaces located beneath the tracks. This bold and innovative design allows thru-streets to remain open to traffic and creates an atmosphere of walkability, while creating a landmark terminal—a symbol of a 21st-century Miami.”

Closing a street may be inevitable in West Palm Beach. But we must demand good urban design in exchange.

Timothy Hullihan, architect and freelance writer

AAF's WPB Terminal Needs More Design Options

The above drawing compares AAF’s proposal for its West Palm Beach transit terminal to a possible alternative that would allow Datura Street to remain open. The alternative design accepts the closing of Evernia Street and recognizes that there are numerous urban planning opportunities to a single street closing. Among them is the creation of a mega-block design that can place the new passenger terminal on axis with the remaining portions of Evernia Street. This creates the footprint upon which a dynamic architectural feature could be added to the views east and west on Evernia, rather than the “after thought” design that is presently proposed.

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