Letters to the Editor

The Underline: Transforming and connecting Miami-Dade

Miami-Dade County has long been at the forefront of trend-setting. Indeed, our home is no longer just a vacation destination for much of the country. We are now a world-class community and international business hub of 2.6 million residents that also welcomed 14.6 million overnight visitors in 2014.

While I welcome the growth Miami-Dade County has experienced over the past several years, I firmly believe that we must manage that growth to preserve and improve the quality of life for our residents, and enhance the visitor experience.

That is why I mentioned the Underline in my State of the County address on Feb. 26. I share the vision for the Underline because it will result in Miami-Dade County being a better-connected, more pedestrian-friendly community. When completed, it will connect county neighborhoods by transforming a ten-mile stretch beneath the Metrorail from Brickell to Dadeland South stations.

This collaborative effort has involved the Miami-Dade County departments of Transit, Public Works and Waste Management, and Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces, as well as the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Friends of the Underline.

The design team selected to develop the Underline master plan is James Corner Field Operations, who Time Magazine recognized as one of the most influential design firms in the world. The firm is recognized for such high-profile projects as the New York City High Line, Tongva Park in Santa Monica, Seattle’s Central Waterfront and South Park London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

With construction set to begin in 2016, it will be the longest urban trail directly connected to transit in the country. It will provide widened and illuminated paths as well as improved crosswalks, as it transforms the existing M-Path into a world-class, contiguous park space in the heart of the urban core.

As a functional transportation alternative, it will encourage the use of the county’s transit system, resulting in reduced automobile traffic. In addition, a recent trail benefit estimate conveyed that the environmental benefits from the Underline will result in the reduction of 1.4 million motorized annual trips and 630 tons of carbon dioxide each year, as well as the restoration of natural habitats and plant life through park installations.

In addition, the Underline’s direct connection to eight Metrorail stations will attract compatible, transit-oriented development, which is a critical component of sustainable growth.

This is a project that our community can be proud of and I invite our residents to learn more about it by participating in upcoming meetings for the development of the master plan. Visit www.theunderline.org.

Together, we will build the Underline for current and future Miami-Dade residents and visitors to enjoy.

Carlos Gimenez, mayor, Miami-Dade County