While Miami-Dade County Commissioner Eileen Higgins is committed to the entire District 5 — large and diverse — we’d like to think there is a special bond to her own neighborhood. For starters, local issues are not mere hearsay. The Commissioner walks our streets every day and knows what’s going on.
I mentioned, for example, how disruptive the Scooter Program has been. How disrespectful and irresponsible the scooter companies have acted in our neighborhood, turning a potential alternative mode of transportation into a jungle dominated by underage kids. She understood. She had seen people ran over, and though it is not her jurisdiction , the City Commission initiated and championed it, she believes it’s time to let it go. The job of elected officials is to try different things to solve problems, but it is also their job to know when to quit.
Commissioner Higgins is the new Chair for the Transportation, Mobility and Planning Committee (TMPC).
So, what can we expect? “As Chair of the TMPC, my top priority is getting people moving. We will continue to advance the SMART plan, but also prioritize our bus network, walkability, bicycle safety, and traffic calming to make Miami-Dade a more livable community.”
Specifically, speaking of moving, let’s condense her vision to three transit projects to impact downtown residents.
The Beach Corridor. A monorail from downtown Omni Station to 5th Street in South Beach. Yes, we will be able to take the train to the beach, and beach residents ride to access world-class museums or the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. A cultural and financial win-win for both sides of the Bay.
Northeast Corridor. Express trains running on Brightline’s tracks will take anxious shoppers from downtown Miami to Aventura in 15 minutes. A commuter train is also on the works, making stops in mid-town, the design district… It will deliver Downtowners to Aventura in 30 minutes. And those North Miami residents longing for a sophisticated shopping experience can hop to the next train and enjoy the Design District, the upcoming Miami Worldcenter or the Brickell Center. It’s okay to take a day off from suburbia.
East-West Corridor. A dedicated lane across Southwest Eighth Street for a rapid bus starting at Eighth Street and Southwest 147th Avenue, with one route ending at the Miami Intermodal Center next to MIA, and another ending in downtown Miami. The single lane would be reversible, and buses that are going against traffic will simply use regular lanes, indicates the Commissioner. The cost for the project is $265 millions. A second phase will run from the Dolphin park-and-ride complex in Doral to the Miami Intermodal Center. “People who live in Doral and work in Brickell, or students driving from downtown to FIU, the Bus Rapid System should drastically reduce commute time.”
Time flies when talking to Commissioner Higgins. Even over Zoom, her optimism is contagious, which combined with her command of facts and the indefatigable energy make for a good definition of leadership.