Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Who's the Man With the Master Plan?

Contrary to what Dr. Dre would have us believe, the man with the Master Plan is actually Miami-Dade County. The M-Path Master Plan was created in July of 2007. It's a 46 page pdf document, so I can understand peoples' unwillingness to read it in its entirety. I did read it, and I was encouraged by the fact that the creators of the plan seem to have a very solid grasp on the problems that plague the path, and are offering many of the same solutions we have talked about here. 

Purpose of the Master Plan
To address the problems facing the M-Path, and to develop a plan correct those problem areas, and to apply the same thinking to future extensions. This will be done by developing uniform standards, so areas of the path will not be looked at individually, but as part of a whole. The goal is that by applying uniform standards the M-Path will develop an identity.

  • Substandard design
  • Poor visibility
  • Missing trail segments
  • Lack of trail continuity and connectivity
  • Encroachment of trail
  • Deteriorating pavement conditions
The Standards
The path will be be widened to 12 feet to allow for safer two way traffic as well as higher rates of speed. Intersection crossings will be made more visible by adding brightly colored paint, and will continue to be 12 feet wide. When appropriate, the crosswalk will be raised to further increase visibility, and encourage slower cross-traffic. Refuge islands will be installed at crossings that are multi-step processes. Like the Bird Road example given below.

                                        (see the Master Plan for more mapped improvements)

Signage will be used to increase safety and establish an M-Path identity. Users can expect to see MUTCD bicycle road signs depicting the letter M rather than the more common number (Venetian Causeway's signs have a V as well). These signs will also have mile markers, and direction of travel. Pavement markings will also be used, including directional, information, approaching pedestrian areas, and instructions on how to safely navigate corners (as seen on the image to the right).  For cross traffic, bicycle crossing signs will be installed 250 feet before all crossings.

To increase safety, emergency call boxes will be added, along with more lighting for nighttime rides. Fencing may also be used in certain areas, or landscaping alternatives, and railings where there is a drop off larger than two and a half feet.

Development Phases
Short term development; resurface critical areas, repaint crosswalks, pavement markings near intersections and metro stations, realign M-Path at South Miami Station (mission accomplished), construct missing links at UM parking lots, emergency call boxes, encroachment measures, pedestrian bridge over Miami River (just kidding), and directional signs with milepost information.

Long term; widen to twelve feet, countdown pedestrian signals and other crosswalk reconfigurations, lighting, non-motorized bridge at Coral Gables Waterway, and provide wayfinding at metrorail station plazas.

Funding will come from MDT, MDC, and FDOT. Some of the cost estimates include 1.5 million for resurfacing and realigning the entire M-Path. The short term development would cost $685,00, and the long term development would cost $2.5 million

They seem to be very serious about making these improvements. Anyone who reads the Master Plan can see that there was some serious thought put into it. They are fully aware of the problems facing the path, and they have posited very legitimate solutions to those problems. I also believe that the only way these plans get enacted is if the path is perceived as being useful and used. We can't take a Field of Dreams mentality here. We have to come so they will build it. The more people using the M-Path, the more incentive the county has to improve it.