Unify, support toll reduction and transportation reforms
MIAMI-DADE – The situation residents are facing on the roads of Miami-Dade County is unacceptable. Faced with constant gridlock and never-ending tolls, they are deservedly upset. It is irrefutable that our quality of life has diminished due to long hours on our expressways. Poor planning and lack of vision has created an environment that stifles economic development and mobility. Frustration among residents grows as they are forced to pay more in tolls without seeing the results they were promised.
The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX), created by the Florida Legislature in 1992, has failed to meet its obligation under state law by ignoring mandated toll relief and financial transparency. MDX has arbitrarily erected toll gantries to increase their bottom line. Through its excessive tolling, MDX has paid no regard to the burden it has placed on hardworking residents.
We have an opportunity to improve our transportation system and provide toll relief. State Senator Manny Diaz Jr. and State Representative Bryan Avila have taken on that task. Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez led reform efforts when she served in the Florida House. They deserve our support.
The legislation will replace MDX with the Greater Miami Expressway Agency. The proposed law will ensure local control, freeze toll increases for an extended period of time, and institute the Florida Sunshine Rebate Program. The legislation also addresses the People’s Transportation Plan (PTP) half penny tax, which failed due to negligence and lack of leadership from a former County Mayor that misled the public for political gain in 2002.
Since I was elected to the County Commission in 2011, I have worked hard to remedy the problems surrounding the PTP and support the implementation of an effective Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (SMART) Plan that brings real solutions to our county’s chronic traffic gridlock. I have introduced and passed legislation that prioritizes corridors, creates free ride programs, established rideshare, new zoning along transit lines to help establish density and increase ridership, and transportation funding options that does not require increase in taxes. The new GMEA can assist our efforts to make real mobility options a reality. Yet, more needs to be done to create real transportation options for all our residents in Miami-Dade County.
I will work diligently with the new Greater Miami Expressway Agency to make certain that the Kendall Parkway we recently initiated becomes a reality. The new law does nothing to hinder this effort. In fact, this proposed project is not even part of MDX’s existing 5-year work plan, contrary to the rhetoric. Our neighbors in Southwest Miami-Dade want and deserve this corridor to bring traffic relief. It is time for my fellow county elected officials, and our entire local community, to unify in support of House Bill 385 and Senate Bill 898. By endorsing this effort, we may forge ahead and improve our county’s transportation system. Miami-Dade’s residents and commuters deserve relief from excessive tolls. The time to implement reform is now.
Esteban “Steve” Bovo, Jr., Miami-Dade County Commissioner