The Kendall Parkway will provide significant traffic relief to approximately 600,000 Miami-Dade residents and facilitate commerce, business, and employment in the region. It will also provide net environmental benefits to the Everglades with the purchase, restoration and permanent preservation of more than 1,000 acres of wetlands.
Truth be told, the Kendall Parkway is the Gold Standard of multi-modal transportation because it provides mobility options for all. It delivers a highway for regional commerce needs, better commute times for daily commuters, as well as transit and nonmotorized options to a severely underserved population in West Kendall. That is why the Florida Legislature passed legislation to expressly designate this transportation corridor as a top priority for design, planning and construction.
Miami-Dade County spent years planning the Kendall Parkway, meeting with tens of thousands of area residents and businesses, and spending millions on environmental and planning studies to determine the best corridor that would provide traffic relief to West Dade, while also protecting our environment. Those studies included traffic flows, potential impacts to agriculture/food supply, and impacts to the surrounding natural environment.
After a full review of the environmental, social and economic impacts, which included the full participation by all federal, state and local permitting agencies, the current alignment was selected for the Kendall Parkway. Contrary to the reported myths, this alignment is east of 172 Avenue and completely outside the area reserved by the South Florida Water Management District and Army Corps of Engineers for the current Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project, known as CERP.
More than 30,000 families living in the project area submitted written endorsements of the Kendall Parkway, which as far as I know is unprecedented for an infrastructure project in the State of Florida. Those who actually reside in West Kendall know it is nonsense to suggest that the Kendall Parkway offers meager transportation benefits, when thousands of them spend more than 45 minutes every morning just to access the Florida Turnpike and commence their daily job commute out of the region. The Kendall Parkway will redefine daily traffic patterns on local roads and reduce travel times for area residents by 3-5 hours a week, giving them back approximately 20 hours a month, a fact that dispels the monumental myth of ‘meager benefits.’
In addition, the Parkway will further support transit usage in the county by facilitating the use of mass transit. Pitting transit versus other mobility modes is a fallacy. Transit requires roads and corridors, and the Kendall Parkway will provide an important one for mass transit. The Kendall Parkway also creates one of the only efficient emergency evacuation routes for residents of Kendall.
As for the alleged impacts on our natural environment, I am pleased to report that the Kendall Parkway satisfies all applicable agricultural regulations and provides net benefits to the Everglades. In fact, after decades of waiting for the feds and state to begin Everglades Restoration in this region, the county will help by acquiring over 1000 acres that are needed for CERP.
An often-ignored fact about that Parkway is that it includes an environmental remediation plan to remove an invasive tree called Melaleucas, a species that consumes so much water it turns wetlands into drylands. With the removal of Melaleucas, dry land will become wet again and resume its natural, kidney-like filtering function to recharge our aquifer, which is a positive environmental impact.
As to its economic benefits, the Kendall Parkway is a “no-brainer” that will fuel South Florida’s economy.
The construction of the Kendall Parkway will create approximately 10,000 new jobs in South Florida during construction and provide long-term economic benefits by literally paving the way for more commerce due to shorter travel times to Downtown Miami (Brickell), Wynwood, Doral, and Miami International Airport. The ease of travel will result in new, practical options for the residents of West Kendall to access goods, services, and businesses in other parts of our community.
Rep. Anthony Rodriguez represents House District 118, which includes part of Miami-Dade County,