Just when you thought things could not get any worse with MDX, The Florida Turnpike and Sun Pass. . . . .
Just when you thought things could not get any worse with MDX, The Florida Turnpike and Sun Pass. . . . .
MDX chair, Maurice Ferré speaks at MPO about how MDX is working on killing HB 353 “with as little noise as possible”.
Call Speaker of the house, Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz, and tell them you support House Bill 353 and Senate Bill 772 that would put limits on MDX and their non-elected board of directors from raising tolls and issuing more bonds. Tell them you want the bills to be heard!
Office of the Speaker, Will Weatherford at (850) 717-5000
President of the Senate, Don Gaetz, tel. (850) 487-5001
E-mail gaetz.don.web@ flsenate.gov
State Rep. Jeannette Nunez Phone: (305) 227-7630 or Phone: (850) 717-5119
State Rep. Frank Artiles Phone: (305) 252-4300 or Phone: (850) 717-5118
Now we learn that the mayors of The Town of Cutler Bay and Homestead are asking for a redo from the Turnpike. This article in the Community Newspapers highlights the outreach failures of the FTE (Florida Turnpike Enterprise).
(Click the image below to read the full article)
Why is the Florida Turnpike Enterprise continuing on their crusade to provide as little information as possible? Do they have something to hide? Are they worried that if the public actually knew the truth about their plans to add Express Lanes aka Lexus Lanes from Homestead to the 836 that the public would wake up and demand general purpose lanes instead of or in addition to Express Lanes?
In fact no mention of the Turnpike Widening Project was included in their latest electronic newsletter blasted out to SunPass users in December. You would think that such a huge project both in its scope and financial implication would merit a mention to the people who will be paying for it and using it. But no. Not a peep. Radio silence continues to be the order of the day at the Florida Turnpike Enterprise.
Their use of Newspaper ads buried deep in the most obscure sections does not justify adequate communication by today’s standards. The Turnpike cannot continue to hide behind 1970′s public outreach techniques anymore.
At the Turnpike public meeting held in Homestead on December 11th, many questions were asked of the turnpike officials. “Where are the demographic studies justifying South Dade residents and commuters will be able to afford the new proposed Express Lanes?”, “Why can’t the transcripts of the meetings be put on line?”, “Why wasn’t the Sun Pass email data base used to inform people of the meetings?” But little to no answers were given.
The very idea of expanding a highway to add express toll lanes screams; “WE NEED TRANSIT”. Is this the only idea that our “transportation” agencies and officials can come up with? We have heard that Rapid Bus Transit (RBT) would be used on the Express Lanes. That’s a start. But where are the plans for the access to the RBT component? We did not see details on this.
We know that transit will cost a lot of money. We get it. But, these toll roads are already costing us an arm and a leg. And what we end up with in the long run is more urban sprawl, traffic congestion, lower quality of life, pollution, accidents and noise.
I know we can do better.
Below is video of the Turnpike’s presentation for the Florida Turnpike Widening Project that Roll Back Tolls captured for your benefit and information. The meeting was held on December 10, 2013.
We have many great ideas and suggestions for our tolling authorities. One of which is to video record all public presentations so that toll payers that were not able to attend in person can watch and learn how their toll dollars are being used. These videos should be made available on YouTube for easy viewing by anyone on any device.
When you hear that the turnpike is going to widen the highway, what comes to mind? More lanes and faster flowing traffic, right? Well not exactly. Only if your are willing to pay an extra toll on top of the regular toll will you be able to use these extra lanes. The FTE will only be widening to make room for it’s new Express Toll Lanes aka Lexus Lanes. No new general purpose lanes will be added. Suggestion for FTE, rename the project to “Express Toll Lane Widening Project”. Because that’s what it really is. We understand that Express Lanes offer an option, but we question how the FTE is communicating this to the public and county commission.
The Florida Turnpike Enterprises’ idea of “recording” the meeting is to have a court reporter present. Oh, and if you would like to read the official transcript you’ll have to make an appointment to go up to the Turnpike headquarters in Ocoee, FL. Yes, it won’t be available on line.
We demand that our tolling agencies update all their communications to modern methods. If we don’t demand this, and loudly, they will never change and will continue to occult information with antiquated communication out reach and standards. Whether this is unintentional or otherwise, there is no excuse for not video taping all public meetings and hearings. And making all documentation and studies easily available via the Internet.
Roll Back Tolls has been asking that toll payers be informed via the Sun Pass email and text database since our inception back in 2010. This database should be used to inform users of upcoming public meetings and hearings. Additionally, it should be made available any tolling agency that uses the Sun Pass system for toll collection so that they may better communicate with their customers.
We don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but we will continue harping on this issue till this becomes a reality.
We understand that the Florida Turnpike and Sun Pass are working to make better communication a reality. And we thank them for taking on this initiative. But when we hear that an “opt-in” option is being considered, we have concerns. The most effective way to communicate is to have all options automatically selected for existing and new Sun Pass users. They should be automatically be “opted in” to receiving e-mail notifications for: road construction/closures, public meeting/hearing notices, toll rate increases, account info notifications, etc. This way the maximum number of users can be reached and informed. If users would rather not receive any or all of these notices then thy can easily “opt-out”.
This method of using the Sun Pass email database can prove to be highly efficient and cost effective as a communication medium. It’s time has come.
The Express Toll Lane Ramp project on Killian/ SW 104th Street has been cancelled! We finally won one for the community!
We want to thank State Representative Frank Artiles and his staff for listening to the Roll Back Tolls and the community. We also want to give a big RBT thank you to FDOT secretary Ananth Prasad for being accessible and listening to our concerns. Read full statement below.
Tallahassee, Fla. – The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) today announced the cancellation of the Killian Parkway Express Lane Direct Access Ramps. These direct access ramps are one component of the overall Turnpike Widening Project from Killian to Bird Road in Miami-Dade County.
The Turnpike Widening Project is designed to improve safety, increase mobility and relieve traffic congestion for Turnpike customers. The Killian Direct Access Ramps would have included direct access from Killian Parkway to Turnpike Express Lanes, the coordination of signals, added protected left turn movements and providing exclusive turn lanes separated from the intersection through movements.
Secretary Ananth Prasad said, “The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) works daily with our local partners to identify projects that will create jobs and improve safety and mobility on Florida’s roadways. FDOT recognizes the importance of listening and responding to the concerns of the local communities.”
Throughout the public outreach process on the Turnpike Widening Project from Killian Parkway to Bird Road, Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) received a substantial amount of public input on the Killian Parkway Direct Access Ramps. While FDOT’s traffic analysis for the Killian Ramps showed improved traffic conditions for the Turnpike system, the local community voiced concerns that the proposed interchange modifications may impact the traffic surrounding the Devon Aire K-8 School.
Representative Artiles said, “I appreciate Secretary Prasad for listening to the concerns of my community. I worked closely with the Florida Department of Transportation to ensure our community concerns were addressed.”
The Killian Direct Access Ramps did not receive the local support necessary to invest the resources required to move forward and will not be included in the Turnpike Widening Project in Miami-Dade County.
Raena L. Wright
Representative Frank Artiles
13501 SW 128th Street, Suite 115
Miami, FL 33186
On Oct 3rd a meeting was held in Kendall to inform residents about the Turnpike Enterprises plans to “widen” the highway south of Bird Road to Homestead (SW 216th Street). Specifically, the meeting focused on a new “proposed” SW 104th Street express toll lane ramp on SW 104th Street (Killian Parkway) next to Devon Aire K-8 School and public park. The meeting was well attended with over 190 people present. Also present were State Representative, Frank Artiles (District 118) and Cutler Bay mayor Edward Mac Dougall.
The Turnpike representatives gave their prepared presentation and then opened up the floor for public comment and questions. Many area residents, parents and concerned citizens came with the expectation that their questions would be answered. But most were not. Particularly noticeable was any effort to answer questions by some of the more informed participants. At one point when local activist Jane Walker asked a direct question the turnpike representative in charge of the meeting refused to answer her saying Mrs. Walker sounded like a lawyer. Also present was Didi Jimeno, PTSA president at Devon Aire K8 School. Her questions about student and pedestrian safety were not answered. Mrs. Jimeno’s concerns are for the safety of school children and parents during the very busy morning drop off and afternoon pick up periods.
Five Things You Can Do to Advocate for your Community:
1.) Join the RollBackTolls.com e-mail list by using the “Join Our Mailing List” app on top right side of this website. We promise not to SPAM you or share your email with others, but we will keep you up to date on this project and others that will affect your traveling costs and quality of life.
2.) Watch the un-edited videos of the Oct 3 meeting below and post comments on our YouTube channel.
3.) “Like” us on Facebook, share the FB content and encourage others to do so as well. https://www.FaceBook.Com/RollBackTolls Florida Turnpike staff checks our page regularly.
5.) Encourage friends, family and neighbors to join you in these five steps.
I wish to thank Representative Frank Artiles, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary Ananth Prasad for advocating for another meeting with the Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) and for the FTE representatives that attended the meeting at the Killian Palms Country Club on October 3, 2013.
We are determined to shine a light so that you can more fully understand how the Turnpike Enterprise is failing to communicate with you.
Thank you for being involved in your community.
Carlos Garcia, RollBackTolls.com
PS Here are links to 2008 and 2013 project studies.
The above graphic shows the Turnpike’s plan to modify the Killian Parkway/SW 104th Street overpass of the Turnpike to allow on and exit ramps for their new Express Toll Lanes Project. As indicated, this re-design will only provide access to the north bound driver wishing to use the Express Lanes. This project has already been approved by the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) and is fully funded. Construction is slated to begin in July of 2014. Estimated construction cost is $26 million.
A public hearing was held on on August 6th which we have heard was lightly attended by the public.
Concerns: Lowered pedestrian safety – Increased traffic to already heavily congested area(new signalized intersection) – Quality of life reduction for surrounding neighborhood, school and public park.
As in the past we wonder why so little public out reach was done. Yes, newspaper ads buried in the Neighbors section of the Miami Herald and direct mailings to homes within 300 feet of the project are the bare minimum the FDOT guideline demands. This needs to be updated! And it should reflect the way people consume information in 2013. Hardly anyone in the Kendall area knows anything about this Killian Parkway ramp redo. If the Florida Turnpike Enterprise really wants to inform the toll paying public about it’s plans, it should use the Sun Pass email and text message database to perform a proper outreach campaign.
The people of Kendall are waking up!
The Florida Turnpike Enterprise is holding a public information meeting regarding the Killian Parkway Express Toll Lane Ramp October 3rd at 6 pm. Location: Killian Palms Country Club, 9950 SW 104th Street. We encourage the community to attend and voice opposition to the project.
If you or your homeowners association would like to get involved, please contact us via-email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank goodness someone is paying attention to MDX. We take a lot a satisfaction in knowing that Roll Back Tolls has played a major role in casting a flood light on this organization.
State representative Jeanette Nuñez and the Dade delegation has stood up and taken notice of the fact that MDX listens to no one. “Despite unanimous widespread public opposition with over three thousand petitions, dozens of constituent complaints, five local mayors, four county commissioners, one State Senator, and eight State Representatives, including myself, asking MDX to adopt the less costly $0.60 toll gantry, the motion failed on a 7-5 vote on June 18, 2013.”
Representative Nuñez goes on to point out that 4 of the 5 gubernatorial appointments voted for the toll hike on March 19th and again voted to maintain it when given the opportunity for a lower .60 cent option on June 18th. Most concerning is that Carlos Fernandez-Guzman and Jose Hevia, both Rick Scott appointees, voted for the toll increase and against the lower option. It is clear that Mr. Fernandez-Guzman and Mr. Hevia don’t share or represent Rick Scott’s vision of low taxes and low user fees.
Seven board members that voted for the hike, aka The Gang of Seven, did not listen to the people. Not once but twice! And we ask that Governor Scott take immediate action to replace member Gonzalo Sanabria as his term has expired in March. He along with the other toll and spend “Gang of Seven” members will have left a legacy of massive debt and an unsustainable future for MDX and the driving public of Miami-Dade.
We agree with Representative Nuñez’s call that MDX board members should be elected and not appointed. What happened on March 19th and again on June 18th should never be repeated. Having a fully elected board would be a step in the right direction to end this tollation. At least we can vote them out if they don’t represent what we the toll payers are asking for and can afford.