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Busway allows transit commuters to avoid traffic congestion.

As reported by Yvonne McCormack-Lyons in the June 1997 issue of T-News, published by the Florida Department of Transportation, a new alternative to braving traffic on U.S. 1 in South Dade County opened recently in District 6. The South Dade Busway is an exclusive roadway that allows transit commuters to travel alongside U.S. 1 quickly and comfortably without the hassles of traffic congestion.

U.S. 1 is one of the busiest and most important transit corridors in South Dade County. Approximately 80,000 vehicles per day travel the corridor to get to nearby major arteries such as the Palmetto Expressway and Florida's Turnpike as well as to businesses, colleges, and Miami's downtown area. Moving local buses off U.S. 1 is an effective way to improve mass transit and ease traffic congestion in the South Dade area.

The $21-million busway, which was constructed by District 6, opened to bus traffic in February and is currently run by the Metro-Dade Transit Agency. Built on 8.2 miles of abandoned Florida East Coast railroad right-of-way parallel to U.S. 1, the busway is the first of its kind in Florida. The project also included renovations to the Dadeland South Metrorail Station. In fact, local transit officials are actually considering it an extension of the county's Metrorail system.

The busway is equipped with special sub-pavement sensors that trigger the state-of-the art computer software to extend the green light for buses approaching intersections on the busway. Although the buses have to stop for red lights occasionally, delays are kept to a minimum by not being exposed to regular U.S. 1 traffic. The busway is also used by emergency vehicles to help them get where they need to go faster. There are also 30 bus "stations" along the busway that are more than just bus stops. These pastel green structures range from 40 to 80 ft in length and shelter passengers.

The busway is also equipped with a bicycle path, lighting, and landscaping. The more than 37,000 trees and shrubs, including royal poincianas, add an array of colors and visual enhancement to the busway.

As the population in the area continues to grow and South Dade continues to recover from Hurricane Andrew, the need for improved transit is more and more important. The department is currently conducting a Project Development & Environment study to extend the busway to Florida City - located just north of the Florida Keys. An extended busway would provide a critical link between South Dade and the rest of Dade County by improving access to the Metrorail and other transit services. The South Dade Busway is an example of state and local planning coming together as partners to address one of South Dade's transportation challenges and to move more people, not just cars.

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Title Annotation:Transportation Digest; South Dade County, Florida
Publication:Public Works
Date:Sep 1, 1997
Words:464
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