Traffic Expert Tells Us Why the Orange Bowl Site Sucks

The NW 7th Ave and 5th St Bridge Leading to the Orange Bowl (Closed until 2011)With Miami pushing for an Orange Bowl ballpark, the local papers have started penning critical articles about the idea.

The Miami Herald takes this issue outside of the sports pages with a column written by its traffic/commuting/”streetwise” expert Larry Lebowitz.

Purely from a transportation perspective, the Orange Bowl site is a lousy one.

Thanks Larry. Everyone knows that. But please, tell us why:

Without serious highway and mass-transit improvements, it would be bad for the Little Havana neighborhood near the OB, bad for the ball club, bad for fans.

The Canes played, at most, seven home games each fall, almost always on Saturdays. The Marlins play 81 home dates a year, about 70 percent of them on weekday evenings. This means fans would be fighting early evening, rush-hour traffic to get to Little Havana for a 7:05 p.m. start for 56 or so games a year.

Ever try driving west on the Dolphin Expressway (State Road 836) on a weekday afternoon after 4:30 p.m.?

We admit that we are not the best judges of South Florida traffic, but anybody familiar with traffic issues in major cities can look at a map and quickly tell that Mr. Streetwise knows what he’s talking about. By placing the ballpark just outside of downtown in the middle of a residential area with little to no traffic infrastructure, the county will force fans who are already in downtown and those commuting from Broward or Palm Beach to have to work their way through traffic.

In theory, five drawbridges carry vehicles over the river.

In reality, one (Northwest Seventh Avenue/Fifth Street) is completely gone and won’t be rebuilt until 2011; another (NW 17th Avenue) is so unsafe that the county was forced to close it earlier this month with little notice, and a third (NW 12th Avenue) is being rebuilt and won’t reopen until February 2009.

And all of the bridges still must open, on demand, for marine vessels.

Nothing interrupts the flow of massive amounts of traffic more than draw bridges… except of course for closed bridges. So it is either no bridge or one that goes up when a boat wants to get through. Again, going back to the earlier point, this may be OK for 6 Saturday football games, but is a disaster for 81 weekday and weekend baseball games.

I would add a comment about public transportation here but you all already know that outside the downtown area, that option doesn’t work.

And the conclusion:

The economics and politics might be tougher, but an accessible, pedestrian-friendly downtown stadium makes the most sense.

You are preaching to the choir my friend. Let’s hope the County seeks the advise of experts like you.

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