Denver has enjoyed great success in transit development, and South Florida has a critical need for solutions.
A delegation of 53 elected officials and business and community leaders recently took a whirlwind 12-hour tour of Denver’s commuter-rail system, light rail, bus rapid transit, free downtown trollies and urban and suburban transit-oriented developments and participated in learning sessions with the transit agency’s prime movers.
The “Transportation Fly-in,” convened by Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, yielded valuable lessons about how GMCC’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is working to identify transformative transportation enhancements the business community can coalesce around and support.
The most profound takeaway is how transit improvements enhanced the livability and “sense of place” for Denver communities from the urban core to the far suburbs.
Particularly impressive is the transformation of the Lower Downtown neighborhood from a blighted, desolate area surrounding a century-old rail terminal that once served the livestock trade into one of America’s most exciting, vibrant urban districts. Denver’s transit authority used public-private partnerships to reimagine it into a stunning mixed-use facility. It is the centerpiece of their multimodal transportation network and home to Amtrak and a commuter rail that soon will serve the airport and distant suburbs.
Platte River and Cherry Creek were rediscovered and now anchor an astonishing linear park and urban trail network popular among recreational and commuter bicyclists.
Beautiful, vibrant, livable communities around transit stops outside the city are accessible by fast, efficient and safe public transit. Residents enjoy diverse housing options and can live, work and play without having to own or use cars. They walk from home or work to public transit and in 20 minutes and for a $2.25 fare reach the airport, downtown business meetings, concerts, Broncos games or Amtrak connections. No traffic, no $30 parking fees.
How did Denver do it?
Experts conducted research, united behind well-defined goals, engaged the best partners and won public confidence by presenting achievable plans. They prioritized based on the best available data rather than political interests, selected the best partners through fair, transparent processes and negotiated agreements focused on best value and not only lowest cost. They did this in record time and now have one of America’s most livable big cities.
Miami is no less deserving or able. Let’s not waste another minute.
Mitchell A. Bierman, chair, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee