Letters to the Editor

Dire predictions about Watson Island project

The Dec. 21 story on Watson Island reports on the city of Miami’s continued violation of state and local laws as it pushes its pet project into its 14th year.

Recently, Miami — in secret and with no public input — took the next step to permit the developer to slip in yet another 160,000 square feet of undisclosed retail, restaurant and event space that will almost double the traffic. With no additional parking, the result will be gridlock on MacArthur Causeway and back-ups in all directions as people search for parking that’s not there.

▪ As a result, many visitors to Miami who will be caught in a jumble of traffic on MacArthur and Venetian causeways and will avoid the area in the future.

▪ Area residents, who have no alternative but to use those causeways for routine access to their homes, will be frequently trapped in unmoving pile-ups, diminishing quality of life and home values on the Beach and on Star, Hibiscus, Palm and Fisher islands.

▪ Travelers, possibly including departing cruise ship passengers, will miss flights at MIA because of unpredictable traffic jams from which there is no escape.

▪ Businesses located near either end of the causeways will lose a tremendous amount of business as customers sit in gridlock and pledge to never attempt the trip again. Taxpayers spent a billion dollars for a tunnel to cure the Biscayne Boulevard problem, only to have it move up a few blocks for the benefit of a private company.

▪ Residents, employees and visitors to Miami Beach take an extra risk with personal security — evacuation, fire, police, and the Coast Guard — in the event of overloaded traffic which Miami’s studies never considered. As one commissioner said: “I am not going to let Miami Beach tell me how to run Miami.”

All residents and taxpayers of Miami-Dade County need to start worrying about an even broader threat — severing the Beach from the city for tourists, business meetings and conventions. Visitor surveys show that dissatisfaction with the most disliked feature of Miami — traffic — increased 250 percent from 2011 to 2013. Trip and event planners will learn the lesson of Los Angeles where, because of perpetual traffic congestion, they cannot combine their activities with Santa Monica’s.

As serious as all this is, there is a solution.

As the Herald reported, lawsuits have been filed that would require the city to step back and address many of these flaws. But the longer this takes, the more difficult it will be to force city commissioners and administrators to stop the chaos they have spawned.

Stephen E. Herbits,