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Miami Trolley Trails (2.0)

Hiding in plain sight are green corridors which can be retooled to add new parks, jobs, bike & walking trails, & light scaled rail transit

Photo of Ernest Bellamy
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Miami is one of the flattest cities in the U.S. with one of the most generous allotments of Rights of Way (ROW’s) to utilities and infrastructure. This flatness has allowed for the ingenious engineering of land, from canals to tame the Everglades, Freight rail corridors, to High Tension power lines that elegantly traverse urban and wild tropical landscapes equally. These corridors have mostly remained sacred space for these utilities.

While a vital asset, these ROW’s are also underutilized for the potential value they hold. What if these vital arteries were expanded to do more and give more to the people, and link us in new and interconnected ways?

There’s currently 65 mi. of canals, 30 mi. of FPL high tension elec. corridors, and 50 mi. of average speed railroad corridors, all with ample ROW width that could accommodate more uses.

These corridors could be unlocked to the public and provide a new system of bike & walking trails, new parks, and an alternative transit system powered by the ingenuity of the people.

Imagine, if instead of scraping the original 300 Metrorail cars being replaced this year we should keep them all and train local residents how to retool them to run! Power them with solar power, and automated them to pick up people along these arteries, on demand through the power of an app, to take them as close as possible to their final destination, linking up with a last mile provider to reach where they want to go.

With trails that can accommodate all pedestrian uses we could not only have new green spaces for bike trails & leisure but a new supportive transit infrastructure that can complement the existing system.

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

Everyday Miamians, Tourists, Bicyclists, Rollerbladers, Runners, Skateboarders, Blue Collar workers, The Elderly, Techies, White Collar Businessmen, Pets, Kids, even Iguanas all have a place on the Trail! As an alternative means to traversing the city, the trail would be used by everyone, at every phase. Miami Trolley trail isn’t a stagnant solution to mobility, it’s a solution that would change with time. Incrementally growing to serve the needs of the community. Dynamic, being able to change with time and use. It will serve as a public space, green lung, and an additionally needed transit artery. Imagine: A Child wanting a safe space to skateboard, free of cars and obstructions. A tourist wanting an alternative means of connecting to Wynwood without driving. An Abuela wanting a peaceful passage to the neighborhood market. A Techie looking for a pedestrian space to test out autonomous transportation alternatives. Miami Trolley Trails can service them all!

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)

Currently proposed: Use of a network of connections at institutions & organizations near and far, including but not limited to: MIT Media Lab, Carnegie Mellon University UDBS, CMU NavLab, FIU, UMiami, FMUniv, M-DCPS, MDC, SEOPW CRA, Wynwood BID, Miami Workers Center, Catalyst Miami, Uber; in order to catapult the ingenuity of Miami locals & create a cyclical economy of doers ‘Made in Miami-Dade’ involved in making & creating local/regional transit and open space solutions from the ground up.

Size of your team or organization

  • I am submitting as an individual

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

Full-scale development of this idea would take years and time, something Miami doesn’t have time for. In order for incremental growth and acceptation of this proposal, of the corridors, highlighted, the ones which would be closest to actual implementation would be Ludlam Trail or Snake Creek Trail. Adding on to an existing in-progress/completed urban greenway trail like these would be an easy plug. To maintain their own development as well as expand the Miami greenway network, the Pilot needs its own location. Allapattah Pilot Fully converting the underused/former CSX Allapattah rail spur into either 1. A dual-use (Freight Rail/Greenway) limited-time accessible ped/trolley trail 2. A full use ped/trolley trail, that would run from Wynwood to the Airport area The Allapattah CSX Spur allows for full site control and low need of land negotiation. It also allows for a test of the idea through low scale intervention to see if it would attract interest/use in a more permanent use.

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

The Allapattah neighborhood of Miami provides the most opportunity as it would create a new East-West pedestrian/alternative green transit corridor in the heart of the city, an area with intense alternative transit need. Use of existing trades and cheap warehouse space in the Allapattah area would help facilitate having space to job train and test out retrofitting a Metrorail car to work automated. Proximity to tech and innovation Co-working spaces like LAB Miami and CIC Miami would provide for adjacency to Innovators could create Apps & Hacks. Workforce skill-building: Allapattah and Overtown contain a fervent amount of local residents eager for higher/living-wage jobs. Downtown’s proximity and having a Metrorail Station along the route makes an easy trip for those outside the area to connect and contribute. If use during Pilot phase event encourages those in the area of the trail and outside visitors to use it would spur furthermore permanent development and outside investment.


Join the conversation:

Photo of KatieWalsh 100

Hi Earnest - many thanks for this elegantly worded vision - and for posting in good time for the deadline. Much appreciated. Katie - Facilitator

Photo of Ernest Bellamy

Thanks Katie, I'm just eager to share some of my idea's, regardless of if mine makes it to the end of this CoT process or not. If my idea's generate a positive change for our community, then we all win!

Photo of Eduardo Cusido

I truly love the way you show us the information, making it more visual which is something really cool! It’s true that Miami needs to use underutilized areas, imagine the possibilities!

Photo of Ernest Bellamy

Thanks Eduardo, i totally agree, there's a ton of underutilized area that can be beneficial to us all if we only unlock their potential.

Photo of Jorge Damian de la Paz

Great designs and branding, Ernest Bellamy ! Future financing mechanisms could potentially include the County's new Transportation Infrastructure Improvement District, Opportunity Zones, and local CDBG funds. The Trail plan should also factor in the proposed Miami Produce Center SAP, a major mixed-use redevelopment project near the CSX spur:

Photo of Ernest Bellamy

Thanks Jorge, I'll definitely check out the info!