Mobility and connectivity are the lifeblood of the region’s economic development and vitality, yet the region’s transportation systems are overstretched. Its airports and seaports provide a tremendous economic development advantage because of easy access to global markets. However, as the region readies for the expanded opportunities which will come with the widening of the Panama Canal, its seaports are reaching physical capacity (both land side and waterside) and too often are not effectively
connected to the highway and rail networks. The region’s major highway corridors, most notably the I-9S corridor, are at capacity. A significant contributor to congestion is the long commute between where people can afford to live and where they go for jobs and daily services.
Two other issues are the predominantly sprawling, low-density, single-use development patterns that have resulted in a largely auto-dependent region and a lack of transit or rail alternatives for moving people and goods. While Miami-Dade has a more mature transit network, transit options in other counties of the Southeast Florida region are more limited. In addition, national, state, and regional sentiment against raising taxes has made it difficult to properly invest in the transportation improvements that are essential to both economic development and livability. Long commutes between jobs and housing, low-density suburban development, and a lack of transit choice have a significant impact on the use of foreign oil, reductions in air quality, and increases greenhouse gas emissions that occur with increases in vehicle miles traveled.
Travel and Transportation
Trip Making Characteristics
The results of the 2010 travel model indicate there are approximately 21 million trips being made each week day in the Seven50 region. On a regional level, more than 2O percent of these trips are home-based work trips, meaning they either start or end at home. About 48 percent of the trips made in the region are home-based non-work trips. Given the fact that the number of trips produced is directly tied to population, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties produce the majority of trips.
Areas of dense trip productions indicate predominantly residential areas. Most of the residential development has been along the coastal area of the region. On the average, each household in the Seven50 region produces about 9.11 trips a day.
In travel model terminology, each trip that is “produced” by a household is “attracted” to land uses such as office parks, industrial complexes, retail centers, hospitals, entertainment complexes, tourist attractions etc. Thus, there are approximately 21 million trip attractions in the Seven50 region. The concentration of trip attractions is an indication of where the major activity centers are located. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties attract almost 87 percent of trips that are produced in the region.
Home-based work trip attractions account for about 20 percent of total trip attractions in the region while the remaining 80 percent is attributable to home-based non-work and non-home- based trips.
The results of the 2010 travel model indicate that within the Seven50 region, approximately 90 percent of trips are within 30 to 35 minutes of a destination. Indian River County has the shortest travel time with at least 90 percent of trips originating within 25 to 30 minutes of a destination. Monroe County trips are the longest in terms of travel time with 90 percent of the trips occur- ring within 50 to 55 minutes of a destination.
Modes of Travel
Most of the region’s 21 million daily trips are made by personal automobile. For work trips, 87 percent of commuters drive alone. The transit share of the daily trips is very small, about 1.5percent. Currently, only Miami-Dade County has the most comprehensive transit system.
The Seven50 region is served by a vast network of freeways, toll roads, high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, and arterials to move millions of trips each day. There are about 490 miles of freeway, 530 miles of toll roads, 150 miles of HOV lanes, and 9,580 miles of major and minor arterials in the region. On a typical weekday, nearly 130 million miles of vehicle travel and about 3.6 million hours of vehicle travel occur on the region’s roadway system.
The 2010 travel model documented those sections of the region’s roadways that are severely congested during the peak periods. The congestion levels on radial roadways leading to major cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and West Palm Beach are very severe. During the peak periods, the congestion levels are much worse, resulting in long delays on several sections of the region’s freeways.
According to Southeast Florida 2060 Plan released in 2008, the cost of congestion in the region is about 2 billion dollars a year. The Seven50 region’s roadway system continues to rank 5th among the nation’s most congested highways.
We Tend to Drive to Work
In 2010, the Seven50 region contained approximately 2.3 million households. The average household size in the region is about which is in the same range as any other major metro area in the southern United States . The predominant mode of travel in the region is automobile. The region contains more than 3.8 million vehicles with an average of 1.64 vehicles per household. Miami-Dade County has the highest auto ownership, with 1.72 vehicles per household, while Monroe and Martin counties have the lowest (1.53 and 1.54, respectively).
As a region we should identify and decide how to fund the regional transportation investments needed for economic growth and competitiveness. Those investments need to be made through integration of transportation, land use, and economic development decisions which are essential to achieving a reliable, cost-efficient, financially self-sufficient, fully-integrated and seamless multimodal transportation system that connects the region and is accessible to all segments of the population and businesses. Such a system of transport should provide to all residents of rural, suburban, and urban communities better access to affordable housing, more transportation choices, and lower transportation costs while simultaneously protecting the environment, promoting affordable development, and helping to address the challenges of climate change, especially sea level rise which may severely impact and/or render inoperative parts of the current transportation system in Southeast Florida region.
Several agencies are tasked with working on the integration of transportation, land use, and economic development decisions. Southeast Florida Transportation Council, multiple Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and two regional planning organizations, among others, are in communication on these issues. Equally important are the many non-governmental organizations, public stakeholder groups, and citizen activists pushing the regional the conversation forward.