Guide To Trashing Taxpayers: The Metrorail M-Path

This week, Miami New Times is publishing a guide to the eight of the worst public works projects in Miami-Dade, where bureaucrats and elected officials take pride in wasting millions in taxpayer dollars on crap residents have little-to-no use for. As we reveal each one of these boondoggles on Riptide, we're asking readers to send us their suggestions of the most asinine things local government has built in your neighborhoods. We'll pick the best one and send the winner a seven-day pass to try out the wonderfully terrible public bus and rail system provided by Miami-Dade Transit. Leave your suggestions in the comments or email them to Banana Republican. Enjoy!

Today, we take a stroll on the least used pedestrian and cyclist path in Miami-Dade County.

Metrorail M-Path
Year built: 1984
Cost: $266,945
What's dumb about it: Throws good money after bad.
Why it was built: To create the illusion that Miami is friendly to pedestrians and cyclists.

mpath.jpg
Ian Forrester
It's afternoon rush hour this past October 28. We count three people traveling on the 27-year-old, nine-mile strip of pavement known as the M-Path, which runs mostly along busy South Dixie Highway, from the mouth of the Miami River to Red Road. There's one guy on a royal-blue Schwinn near the Coconut Grove Metrorail station and a woman pushing a stroller with a baby at the Douglas Road station. Although the M-Path was designed with cyclists and pedestrians in mind, most days you'd be hard-pressed to find either.

That's because of heavy vehicular traffic and a gauntlet of 21 dangerous intersections. There aren't even signs warning drivers to slow down or stop at crosswalks. Most cyclists avoid the M-Path. "Last time I was on it was three months ago," Miami Bike Scene blogger Rydel Deed says. "On days you ride the M-Path, you can't let your guard down. The M-Path sucks."

Transit Miami blogger Tony Garcia, another critic, says the M-Path shows that planners give priority to motorists. "Our transportation system tends to be mediocre when it comes to all other modes besides cars." The path could be great for nonmotorists, but "it seems like it goes nowhere," he says.

Now transportation officials are wasting $4.5 million more. They are building a pedestrian bridge that will link the M-Path at Red Road to the Dadeland North Metrorail station and the South Dade Trail, a million-dollar, 20-mile urban path to Florida City. The bridge is slated to open in December.

Wrong solution, Deed says. "At the very least, paint the crosswalks green so people in cars can see there is a path in front of them," he suggests. "That is something that is so inexpensive to do. I'd rather have that than spend millions on a bridge."

Guide to Trashing Taxpayers:

Marc Sarnoff's Circle
South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center
Interstate 95 Golden Glades Flyover
Hialeah Okeechobee Road Landmark

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9 comments
The Miami Bike Scene
The Miami Bike Scene

I would like to clarify something. When I was contacted by the journalist to conduct an interview concerning the M-Path I was under the impression that the article was about the improvements needed. I had a lengthy discussion on the phone with Francisco concerning the M-Path and while I did say "it sucks" I said a whole lot more that was omitted.  I told him the M-Path was a great asset to cyclists mainly due to it's location and length.  It runs parallel to US1 and traverses various neighborhoods, you can ride it from the Brickell area all the way to the Kendall where it connects with the South Dade Trail (busway) which then leads to Florida City.  I was genuinely under the impression the article was about safety and what could be done to improve the facility. I even provided the journalist with the photo my friend Ian Forrester had sent me of a cyclist who was struck by a motorist while crossing an intersection on the M-Path just one day prior to the interview.  I had no idea the article was going to be about how the M-Path is waste of money, I DO NOT believe the M-Path is a waste of money. I think it's a very rough gem, and with the proper signage, lighting, etc it can be a great asset to the community.  I strongly agree with commenter Matthew Toro's view on the M-Path. I stand by what I said about the Snapper Creek pedestrian bridge, if I had a choice and funds were limited I would prefer improvements to all M-Path crossings,  proper signage & green painted crosswalks, even if it meant we had to sacrifice the crossing of Snapper Creek Expy ramp, I was speaking hypothetically. I am not anti M-Path nor pedestrian bridge and I never have been, I'm just very critical about the facility  because it has so much potential, yet is so poorly designed. - Rydel

Elizabeth Warriner
Elizabeth Warriner

I strongly disagree with this article.   There are certainly things that could be done to improve the mpath... but.... It is also the safest path in the near downtown.  I have ridden the grove  and key biscayne.  I absolutely feel safer on the MPath.  At least on the MPATH has stretches between intersections that are very safe.  Not so on any other road around during rush hour.  In fact I have ridden with many cyclist who tried the other paths and have now moved to the MPATH as a safer alternative.  I see more and more cyclists on the path every time I ride.  an indication that if you build it they will come..  .As for heat.. the coolest outdoor activity you can do is ride a bike.   Cyclists are keeping the pollution down (by traveling in a pollution free method),  the health care costs down (by being basically healthy and requiring less in medical costs),  the congestion on the road down (by not bringing their own car) and  the cost of fuel down but not using this resource,    We should encourage cycling.I ride the path from the falls to downtown 2-3 times a week, all times of year. .. I absolutely believe that if we want to make Miami a friendly town that tourists want to visit and people want to live in.  ... then we need better paths, with signs and more indicators to the traffic.Everyone I know says I would love to ride my bike, but it is too dangerous.  The bridge is important part of removing the dangers.  

Matthew Toro
Matthew Toro

I must strongly disagree with the inaccurate picture of the M-Path that's been unjustly painted as a waste.I ride the M-Path regularly, and I know many other bikers who actively use, appreciate, and love the M-Path in a community that’s otherwise devoid of any multi-use urban trails. I think the M-Path, while far from perfect, should be one of the most celebrated pieces of non-motorized transport infrastructure in our county, even if for no other reason than its sheer existence in a community that lacks any comparable facilities.Some of the specific criticisms aimed at the M-Path are irrefutable and important. Is the M-Path highly disjointed? Unquestionably.Does the M-Path have adequate signage. Absolutely not.Are many of the M-Path crossings dangerous? Extremely so.Does the design of the M-Path reflect a planning/design/construction bias toward automobiles? Regrettably so. Does the M-Path have adequate lighting? No way.Is the M-Path wide enough? Not yet.Should the M-Path be regarded as a waste of public monies simply because of its far-from-ideal design flaws – no way, José!To suggest that the M-Path is a waste of money is a terrible falsehood. I’m personally very grateful to have the M-Path at my disposal. I use it regularly to access all the same destinations accessed by the Metrorail. We have to remember that the “M-Path” refers to the “Metrorail-Path”, and the property on which the M-Path is located is actually county property. It’s a great use of otherwise neglected space, although, admittedly, it could be doing much more to serve the pedestrian and biker communities. Is the M-Path ideal? – no way, but I must prefer having the M-Path rather than just a wasted scrubland occupying the space below/along the linear Metrorail. Regarding the soon-to-be-finished multi-use footbridge and M-Path connection running through the Dadeland North Metrorail station, this is absolutely the right idea. The reason crosswalks were decided against is because the westbound traffic on the Snapper Creek expressway (SR 878) is free flowing (i.e., there is no stoplight there to allow for pedestrians or bikers to cross the Snapper Creek expressway. I’ve done that route many times (I did it just this past weekend!), and riding southbound down US-1 is quite an adventurous undertaking. That multi-use bridge will give walkers and bikers the necessary feeling of safety when crossing that expressway and continuing on through the newly widened sections of the M-Path. Also, in addition to being widened, the new sections of the M-Path will be striped for two-lane non-vehicular traffic.The New Times would do better advocating for improvements to the M-Path to rectify its design flaws rather than inaccurately labeling it a rarely used waste of tax-payer money .Yes, the M-Path is flawed, but it’s basically all we’ve got, and, to quote a famous British rock-band, “It’s getting better all the time”!

Eduardo Especial
Eduardo Especial

As long as we're on the Metrorail tip (or below it, as it were), how about this boondoggle: the $506 million "AirportLink" Metrorail extension from beautiful downtown Earlington Heights to the new Miami Intermodal Center being built on top of and next to the MIA Tri-Rail station?

Who in their right mind thinks anybody is going to get off a plane, take a Metromover from the airport across LeJeune, get on Metrorail, go north and then east to fabulous Earlington Heights, (possibly) change for another Metrorail train to continue taking you east, south, then finally southwest to Government Center, where you -- what? -- change for a bus to take you to the Beach? Change for a Metromover to take you to a hotel near Bayside or on Brickell?

Nobody I know. Or at least nobody I would want to know.

Of course, it made much more sense to build "AirportLink" and shelve the East-West Metrorail and BayLink (thanks, Matti!). Those would have actually ended up being used by a lot of people. 

Overhaul38
Overhaul38

You might be interested to know that the fare revenue collected on Metrorail each month does not even cover the cost of the electricity to run the station.

Brandt A.
Brandt A.

Considering the fact that this summer was my first time riding the M-Path, I was actually excited, not knowing how bad it was. Although the stretches between intersections were nice, that was about all I liked about the experience.

Intersections are a mess. Crosswalk markings are not only faded, but dangerously close to passing US-1 traffic. At a lot of intersections, it's not clear at all where the M-Path continues. At one point, the path actually goes down the middle of a train station parking lot and hits a dead end. I have to go around the station to find where the path resumes. After passing Vizacaya heading towards Brickell station, it's gets worse, but it's the same issues - it's not clear where the m-path continues, and at one of the 'crossings', to the passing cars it looks like I just emerge from the bushes. There's not even an attempt to make a crossing at said intersection. I could go on, but I'd rather not. While it is nice to have, it needs lots of improvements before it can be taken seriously. If you're going to use it, be extremely cautious, or take the metrorail.

Country Girl
Country Girl

The bike paths in Miami-Dade were sold as "alternative transportation" so the county could tap into federal dollars. Only the bike nuts supported these paths and they were relentless in their PR campaign. Miami-Dade is never going to be a bike alternative tansportation success; too hot, too wet, too congested, too spread out. One of the worst ideas (yes there is one worse than US1) was a bike path along Krome Avenue in South Dade. I also have counted bike riders/walkers along US1 and they don't exist. The members of BPAC have cost us millions of transportation dollars that could have gone to better roads. A few well-placed paths for  recreation (like Coconut Grove or Black Point) is all that is needed. Of course, no one bothered to secure money for maintenance so the paths are dangerous. 

Stephanie
Stephanie

"Miami-Dade is never going to be a bike alternative tansportation success; too hot, too wet, too congested, too spread out." In response to your comment, consider that using a bicycle as transportation does not have to be a long distance and tackle the domain of Miami-Dade urban sprawl, it can be a transportation alternative for short trips that are 1 to 5 miles. The months ahead are great times to bicycle outside. I bike 2 miles to work from a bus stop year round. Even in the summer months I find it breezy and somewhat cool in the mornings. If Miami-Dade does not offer more projects towards alternative transportation, then you're "too congested" point will continue to be valid and worse in the future.

Markus
Markus

country girl, I must not exist - as I take the M-Path every single day (or close to that) and encounter numerous other bikers and pedestrians on this path, which is a spine connecting a range of places (downtown, Coconut Grove, UM, South Miami, South Dade). I ride for recreation (and it is not a pretty place for that either), but I also commute. Giving people options how they want to commute is what these projects are - instead of building more and more roads connecting urban sprawl areas. And by the way, I ride year round, choose to live in a place that makes a commute like this easy ... and I also drive when necessary. Some food for serious thought.

As for the article itself - it is badly researched and if the M-Path qualifies for the top 5, I don't know what the New Times - a great paper in my opinion - is talking about.

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