Choose your future. A computer model was created to model various possible futures for the region. The complete scenario report is available at Seven50.org. What follows is a brief summary.
In the next 50 years, Southeast Florida is expected to in- crease its population by over SO percent (roughly 3 million more people, 1.3 million more homes, and 2.1 million more jobs).
Multiple scenarios of development were explored to see how these new people could be accommodated within the diverse region of Southeast Florida. Important questions must be answered to keep the region relevant and prosperous to maintain the current quality of life:
- How do we keep the region moving and avoid high com- mute times and increased congestion?
- In addition to the jobs in tourism, construction/real estate, and agriculture, how do we compete as a region in such a way that attracts talent and insures high-paying, secure employment?
In the southern counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach the housing demand for future generations is changing from single-family auto-centric units to multi- family, transit-oriented units around vibrant centers. In the northern counties of Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River there is a commitment to protecting a suburban lifestyle while enhancing walkable, sociable, “main street” places. While different, these goals can be complimentary.
Southeast Florida’s natural assets make it a place people from all over the world want to live, work and enjoy. How will a 50% population increase affect our environment? As a region prized for its shore and unique environmental as- set of the Everglades, how shall we adapt to climate change and sea level rise?
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6.4 million people live along the Southeast coast of Florida, squeezed between the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Everglades and agricultural lands.
The Southeast Florida Region continues developing along its current trend with no major changes in regional growth, transportation, environmental, social, and/or economic policies.
New development is pushed to the edges of metropolitan areas, causing widespread loss of farmland and environmentally sensitive lands, particularly in the northern counties. Development is largely auto- mobile-dependent, resulting in further strains on the suburban road networks and creating routine traffic jams during peak hours. New highways are built, and existing ones are expanded at great expense. The expanded capacity however, is overwhelmed with traffic from new development spawned by these new roadways.
Meanwhile, demographic changes demand more pedestrian-friendly urban environments, yet constrained supplies of walkable areas causes the prices in these places to rise, putting them out of reach of large portions of the population. Energy and transportation costs also continue to rise, putting a strain on household budgets, especially throughout the automobile-dependent suburban stretches of the region. Current efforts to expand transportation options along key corridors such as US-1 and the Tri-Rail line continue; yet new development along these corridors remains badly connected to other walkable areas and existing downtowns. The limited amount of transit- served areas creates development at these locations to often take the form of high-rise buildings without many middle densities to make the transition to existing single-family neighborhoods.
Sea-level rise gradually affects more and more of the region, causing widespread flooding in low-lying areas. Many areas are unable to afford necessary in- vestments in storm-water infrastructure and shore- line protection measures to protect key areas from the effects of sea-level rise. Slowly people will migrate away from vulnerable areas as they are forced to deal with the effects of sea-level rise more often. Salt water intrusion causes extensive damage to the environment, as well as decreased access to fresh water.
Trend: Stay The Course
The Southeast Florida Region continues on its current trend of business as usual with no major changes in regional growth, transportation, environmental, or economic policies.
Plan 1: Suburban Expansion
In this scenario the region continues to grow as it has but at an even greater pace. New highways, road widening projects, and flyover lanes increase traffic capacity as rural areas are added to expand the footprint of development. A greater portion of the population settles in the Northern Counties on large lots in an auto-dependent settlement pattern. Climate change adaptation occurs where absolutely necessary.
Plan 2: Strategic Upgrades
Plan 3: Region In Motion
A high percentage of new residents are accommodated in walkable, Transit Oriented Developments (TODs) along existing rail lines that extend from Miami-Dade to Sebastian Inlet. Street design for the region is up- graded to multimodalism including, connecting most neighborhoods to rail transit by streetcar or bus. Western centers for urban development are identified and the region attracts young, highly paid, information economy workers. Climate change adaptation and a reduction in greenhouse gases is a high priority.