New Business and Commission Requests - R9 C
|TO:||Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Commission|| |
|FROM:||Alina T. Hudak, City Manager|| |
|DATE:||July 6, 2023|
|SUBJECT:||DISCUSSION ON THE VIABILITY OF THE CITY ENTERING INTO A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (FDOT), IN ORDER TO PROVIDE THE CITY MANAGER WITH ADVANCE AUTHORITY TO CLOSE ANY OF THE CAUSEWAY(S) LEADING INTO THE CITY DURING THE SECOND AND THIRD WEEKENDS OF SPRING BREAK IN MARCH 2024.|
The City Administration recommends that City staff continue to coordinate with the Florida Department of Transportation (“FDOT”) to manage and mitigate the impact of traffic on the causeways leading into the City during the second and third weekends of March 2024.
The City of Miami Beach (“City”) has developed and cultivated collaborative relationships and partnerships with the regulatory agencies having jurisdiction over rights-of-way and thoroughfares within and adjacent to the City, including with FDOT.
Pursuant to Resolution 2023-32543, adopted by the Mayor and City Commission (“City Commission”) on March 27, 2023, the City Administration met with FDOT leadership to explore the viability of the City entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with FDOT, in order to provide the City Manager with advance authority to close any of the causeways leading into the City during the second and third weekends of Spring Break in March 2024, based upon certain capacity limits having been met and/or the occurrence of other established criteria.
During the meeting, several preliminary concerns with Resolution 2023-32543 were expressed as FDOT does not have the statutory authority to delegate authority to a municipality to close a road, highway, or causeway on the State Highway System (“SHS”). While a Governor-declared state of emergency (i.e. hurricane, bridge failure) may include authorization to close a transportation facility, FDOT’s authority to permit closures on the SHS is limited to the approval of Maintenance of Traffic (“MOT”) plans for construction projects and maintenance work, and for emergency incidents in coordination with the Florida Highway Patrol (“FHP”), and any other incidents within its jurisdiction.
Roads, highways, and causeways may be closed as a result of an emergency incident (e.g., vehicular accident, a spill, or any other situation that requires the response of law enforcement and/or fire safety professionals). If an incident results in the limited or full closure of a transportation facility, FDOT’s goal is to 1) limit the extent of the closure; 2) keep traffic flowing along the SHS; and 3) open the facility to traffic as soon as possible. FDOT aims not to close the entire facility unless absolutely necessary for the health, safety, or welfare of the public.
During the discussion, it was affirmed that if volumes on a roadway reach or exceed the vehicular capacity of the facility, thereby resulting in traffic congestion, that, in and of itself, is not considered an emergency situation nor a reason that would require or warrant a closure. Moreover, closures on major roadways have an impact on the adjacent roadways. As such, there are significant concerns with the impact that closing a causeway into Miami Beach would have on the Interstate Highway System (I-95, I-395, and I-195) in close proximity. Shifting the capacity issue from City streets to the SHS is not an acceptable solution to FDOT. Furthermore, FDOT may have fundamental concerns with the potential legal implications that causeway closures during Spring Break may have on Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, Interstate Commerce Act, constitutional rights to travel, and discrimination (e.g. providing a lane for residents only).
It is important to note that FDOT has approved MOT plans for High Impact Period closures along the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle causeways. The plans consists of a one-lane closure in the eastbound direction on both causeways to meter and slow down vehicular traffic entering the City. The City intends to implement these MOTs on both causeways to assist the Police Department with the deployment of License Plate Reader (“LPR”) details during Spring Break. FDOT will consider modifications to the existing approved MOT plans (if queue times are not extended further and with the appropriate engineering justification). However, based on the discussion and prior discussions, FDOT will not permit a two-lane closure (or a full closure) in the eastbound direction along the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle causeways (i.e. reducing the causeways to one eastbound lane).
FDOT is aware of the capacity issues that result in traffic congestion on State Roads in the City on a daily basis, which, according to FDOT, can only be alleviated through widening the roads (which is not a viable option in Miami Beach) and/or through an efficient and effective public transportation system. In lieu of closures, FDOT encourages the City to consider other alternatives and methods to discourage Spring Break and the traffic on the causeways leading into the City during that time period.
SUPPORTING SURVEY DATA
Pursuant to Resolution 2023-32543 adopted on March 27, 2023, City staff recently met with FDOT leadership to discuss the potential for an MOU between FDOT and the City to allow for modified access/closure of causeways during Spring Break 2024 based on capacity limits or other established criteria. The preliminary discussion was informative and provided insight as to challenges in effectuating such an MOU including constitutional and state laws and regulations, and the authorization and circumstances required to implement a closure. While the discussion is ongoing, FDOT may consider potential modification, under certain criteria, of the FDOT-approved MOT plans that the City normally implements during the Spring Break period. The Administration recommends that City staff continue to coordinate with the Florida Department of Transportation (“FDOT”) to manage and mitigate the impact of traffic on the causeways leading into the City during the second and third weekends of Spring Break in March 2024.
|Is this a "Residents Right to Know" item, pursuant to City Code Section 2-14?|| ||Does this item utilize G.O. Bond Funds?|
|Yes|| ||No|| |
Transportation and Mobility
Commissioner Alex Fernandez