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Downtown, Brickell and Little Havana - Miami River Bridge Alert System and Safety Enhancements

An alert system with a mobile app and on-street signage that will help reduce congestion when the bridges open and improve safety

Photo of Aaron DeMayo
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Miami is the city of the future and is growing at increasing rates because of the many benefits South Florida has to offer.  The downtown core has recently seen a resurgence of life, with many new apartments and condo buildings constructed, offices filling up, and new shops and retail offering new choices for daytime residents, as well as this new full-time population. As a result, we have a lot more vehicles coming into Downtown and Brickell.

The Miami River separates Brickell from Downtown to the North. Three north to south bridges located on SW 2nd Avenue, S Miami Avenue, and Brickell Avenue connect these two bustling areas, along with elevated metro-rail and metro-mover tracks.  These three bridges become natural choke points, which is further stressed as both Biscayne Boulevard and NE 2nd meet at SE 2nd street before going south, creating massive traffic jams on the Brickell Bridge and arterial streets.  Most traffic tries to use this bridge rather than the other two western bridges. The worst traffic occurs when the bridges are raised. There are also two additional bridges going east to west connecting Downtown to Little Havana on West Flagler Street and SW 1st Street. The Miami River is a working river, with large tugboats routinely assisting freight ships along the river. There are also many boat yards and docks, and other large boats also require the bridges to be raised.

When the bridges are raised, traffic comes to a halt, not only on the direct roads feeding the bridges but on arterial roads as well. This cannot continue in the center of the economic engine of our city. It is inefficient to have thousands of skilled workers sitting and waiting for the bridge to go up and down, especially for pleasure crafts. The traffic that is backed up from a single bridge opening takes many cycles of traffic light changes to then fully move through the system. Although it is necessary for the working boats to pass by, an alert system will inform the population, so they can seek alternate routes and save significant time.

Moving through downtown is also difficult and dangerous because of the many one-way streets. It is common to see vehicles traveling the wrong direction on a one-way street. This often occurs at night because it is difficult to view the no turn signs which are only located high above the road on the traffic signal bars, where little light from the street lights shines on them.

The solution we wish to create is an alert system for everyone to know when the bridges will be lifted as well as updated signage for turning instructions.

Vessels must call in their request for a bridge to be raised, which allows the operators to know roughly when this will occur.  There are also certain times of day, when recreational boats are not allowed to ask for the bridges to be raised, however, it is well documented that this rule is not enforced.

The solution we propose is to create an alert system to allow the public to know when the bridges will be raised. This will occur by signaling people on the street, both pedestrians and in vehicles, of this occurring.  The electronic signals can be placed on signs by themselves or integrated into traffic light posts.  Additionally, this data should be able to be accessed via a mobile device, for instance, it can be integrated into the MDT tracker app. This will allow people to plan their journey much more efficiently. The only means of moving across the river when the bridges are going up is by I-95, the Metro Mover and Metro Rail. So by integrating this into the MDT Tracker app, it will encourage more users onto the metro rail and metro mover, further reducing traffic, pollution, and single occupant car use and ownership.

Additionally, we would like to add lit signage that will replace the existing no turn signs.  This will greatly enhance vehicle and pedestrian safety. 

Lastly, there will be an outreach program to inform the public of these updates as well as any other traffic or mobility information that the City or transportation authorities may like to share.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

Anyone who travels on these roads will use this solution. Since there will be on-street signage, anyone will be notified without the use of a device, although using a device will also make it easy. In the future, the information will also tie into other map software as well as autonomous vehicles.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Aaron DeMayo is an Architectural Designer and Urban Planner with experience in zoning, urban design, and transportation planning. I will take the lead and assemble other members from the Urban Planning community to work together to address these issues. We will hire an app developer for the coding portion of the work to be done.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

The majority of the funding will go toward conducting research on where and how to implement the signage for the alert system, and for the development and coding of the software for the alert system. By creating the platform and software, we can then use the same technology in other locations. We can work with other local municipalities to create alerts for bridges such as on the Venetian Causeway, at West 63rd Street and Indian Creek Drive, and many others. Once the software is built, we can also license its use to other cities that suffer from the same issues. After going through the process with the various organizations we will also be poised to offer consultation and design services to ensure the success of other similar projects.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

The ultimate success of the Pilot will be in fully implementing this project to optimize movement from Brickell to Downtown as well as into Little Havana. Additional success would occur in implementing the concept in other locations around Miami, and then expanding to other municipalities. A bit further down the road, the data can be transferred to other apps through APIs, like google maps, apple maps, and Waze. Autonomous cars will utilize sensors on vehicles, as well as monitors on streets that create a vast network to optimize routes and efficiency. There is still no defined understanding of how this data will be shared or who owns it, allowing for additional opportunities for the sale of the data. We understand the complexities of this project, as well as the difficulties of working with multiple agencies. There is a significant need for a solution, and the proposed Brickell avenue tunnel is still many years away. This solution can be implemented quickly and effectively.


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Photo of Natalie Imran

This is a great idea and also a practical solution! Well done

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