Politics: Bridge To Nowhere

Krispy Korans, too

By Jeffrey Bradley

Where’s Sarah Palin when we need her? Perhaps she’s trying to figure out the City’s latest “transportation project” that makes about as much sense as the square root of zero + nil x nothing… the West Avenue/Collins Canal Bridge, we mean.

Of all possible hare-brain “transportation” schemes by a city that considers taxis rapid transit, this one takes the cake. It does nothing to address the confusing welter of streets that converge on that humpy little bridge across Collins canal, but shoehorns another layer of mayhem roadway atop the extent mess, which will shave at most one or two seconds off the feverish rush to queue up in the worst intersection in all Miami Beach—the car-choked, nightmarish craziness of Dade and Alton, we mean (if you ever want to witness road rage in slow motion just stand on the little “safety” island there a while). Way to go, City Hall! Just what a pedestrian-oriented, beachside community needs—even more hurtling traffic. And who said you guys lacked vision?

We estimate the cost at $10,000,000.00—with the City front-loading considerable debt as the PD&E has to be done before asking for Federal money—so, what’ll we get for our money? Only this: a new bridge over the Collins Canal (into whose murk we’ve stared at length but remain puzzled as to what’s in there) connecting the stumpy part of West Ave to Dade Boulevard via an Alton parallax service road. That’s right; the best the City could do with a piece of prime real estate just 3 blocks from Lincoln Road was design a bypass for cars to careen and career over where no traffic exists. Vroom-vroom, baby. Build it and they will speed.

Yet, the West Avenue/ Dade Boulevard/Purdy Avenue/Venetian Causeway/Bay Drive nexus is an easy fix. Shifting those pavement markers and a few well-placed medians would work wonders, Gertrude. And, according to our 17th Street Irregulars, whose job it is to ferret out and report this kind of stuff, there’s already a plan for this.

But like a drowning man, who’ll clutch at any straw, the City also has a plan for the new Collins Canal bridge, and has since 2008 when the adjacent land was appraised at six million dollars. Now, here’s where things begin to get weird. The Housing Authority of the City of Miami Beach (HACMB), which owns the land, decided in 2009 to decline the City’s offer of purchase and build affordable housing instead.

By February 2010 things had inexplicably changed. HACMB decided that $1.6 million was after all a fine price for an easement over their land. As it would slice the parcel in half, HACMB also figured to still build 72 units of affordable housing for senior citizens. And so, the City readied its plans to build the bridge.

Why? These projects attract money, true—the $7 million construction bill will be paid largely by the Feds—but they also cost more. Factor in the clauses of the Davis-Bacon wage act, the Buy American Steel provisos, equal-opportunity (whatever that means) hiring mandates, and the full-blown Environmental Impact study that must be commissioned before work even begins and presto-chango!—you’re suddenly bound in red-tape and staggering under debt. And since when did the City of Miami Beach get into road and bridge construction?

It’s all rank hypocrisy. When asked why City Hall doesn’t aggressively push rapid transit, one of the stock-in-trade answers is “That’s the County’s job.” So why then, Commissioner Wardheel, does the City suddenly feel the need to do FDOT’s?

The City claims disengenuously that these “bridge and intersection improvements” are part of the 1999 Municipal Mobility Plan, which the commissioners infamously traduced when they voted to detach its upgrade of the Pine Tree/23rd Street Bridge—even after a study found that with the upgrade “this crossing would serve to relieve congestion at nearby intersections.” But—get this—when a similar traffic study specifically examined the effects of the new Collins Canal bridge, and extending West Avenue to Dade, and found this project wanting (it specifically “did NOT improve the performance of nearby intersections”), the City plowed on anyway.
So, who’s behind this bridge to nowhere?

The Planning Department isn’t; nor is Public Works—and both no doubt anxious to take credit if the idea was sound. Then who? Must be the Economic Development Office, which maintains that the Feds think we’re overdue for new road money, even if we don’t need it! As for the HACMB, beyond that $1.6 mil, it’s hard to discern any gain in gutting this parcel so preposterously. At least the City, usually the Biggest Loser in any kind of deal, ended up buying land, and not—like in the recent Scott Robbins Parking Garage fiasco—air.

<Sigh> Things are seldom what they seem; skim milk masquerades as cream.

Pass the 72 Virgins Please
Of all the hopey-changey dopiness that’s come down the pike since the last election, the reasons against burning a Koran are among the dumbest. Don’t protest the Ground Zero mosque, they say, or burn a Koran because the Moslem “street” will explode!.

Pardon us if our slip is showing beneath our burkha, but when is the Moslem “street” not ready to explode? And just why is it again that we should care about upsetting those who already hate us? Last we heard, these fanatics were not only guilty of murdering 3,000 compatriots but of rioting to the chant of “Death Death Death to America!”

While generally down with Voltaire (“To burn is not to answer!”, he hurled at the French king who had his books torched for being seditious), we’ll risk provoking the Religion of Perpetual Pissed-Offedness by revealing the reason for burning: these people cannot be reasoned with; they loathe our existence and mean us harm. (If, by “these people” you do not know whom we mean, try strolling down a street in Karachi. You’ll find out soon enough.)

There is nothing you can do with a really determined atavist—except believe them. So when Moslems say they’ll have sharia law—with its oppression, “honor” killings of women and children; death for any but fervid belief; institutionalized enmity towards “pigs and monkeys” of other religions; cliterectomies, stonings, beheadings and other cultural diversity pleasantries—as the law of the land, believe them.

American apologists, ever the useful idiots, ignore the uncompromising zealotry of Mohammedanism, and the fact that sneakers, stuffed animals, comic books and frescos—even beauty queens!—have all been used by these “holy warriors” to grant themselves license to kill whomever “offends” the name of Allah (may peace be upon him). But that America must now face the moral dilemma of acknowledging equal rights for murderers—and that this is a clash of civilizations with only one outcome—we should be grateful..

We are now in the hands of a conflicted president who mulled the arrest of a preacher while siding with fundamentalists who view a Ground Zero mosque as the spoils of war—as befits any Kenyan-born Moslem that holds an anti-colonialist worldview. In reality, the flame of Moslem outrage was lit more than a thousand years ago when the first Crusaders successfully smote the Saracen foe.

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