Little Havana is one of Miami’s most historic and famous neighborhoods, and Calle Ocho (Southwest Eighth Street) is its heart. Calle Ocho once served as a safe, thriving neighborhood Main Street. Then the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) redesigned it, turning the charming boulevard into a highway to Brickell and resulting in one of the nation’s highest pedestrian fatality rates. Especially at risk are senior citizens, who have been killed at several times the rate of those 65-and-under.
Finally recognizing the danger in its design, FDOT is considering improving “Highway Ocho,” but recommendations are being made with little consideration of residents’ wishes. What’s worse, despite the area’s high number of senior citizens, only one senior attended a recent meeting, as others weren’t adequately informed. This is unacceptable.
Before this project proceeds, FDOT should hold at least three well-publicized meetings; publish newspaper ads in clear English and Spanish; mail letters in both languages to residents and business owners located within a half-mile of Calle Ocho (the distance that many walk to their local pharmacy or grocery store), and present to the area’s neighborhood associations. Little Havana and Shenandoah residents deserve better. Too many lives have been lost already.