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We’re blown away by how beautiful this place can be. (📸: @spacebypixel via @miaexplore)

A BIG MOMENT FOR THE SMART PLAN

There’s finally a plan for giving South Dade residents some relief from the epic traffic they face every rush hour. One problem: Many don’t want it.

On July 19, Mayor Carlos Gimenez will ask the county’s Transportation Planning Organization to endorse his pitch for a “bus rapid transit” system for South Dade.

It’s a big moment. Consultants have been studying options for this corridor and five others – together called the SMART Plan – for more than two years.

But it could end there. Many residents and politicians feel like they’re getting shafted if they get anything less than the rail they were promised. That anger could be a problem for elected officials repping the area. (See this tweet from State Rep. Kionne McGhee and this awkward exchange with the federal government about funding for BRT, via Miami Herald reporter Doug Hanks.)

This debate in South Dade has been going on for more than two years now. A rejection could stall what little momentum the SMART Plan has.

WHAT BUS RAPID TRANSIT IS:

If done right, it’s not that different from rail – and it costs a lot less. But to be legit bus rapid transit, the system must have:

  • Fare payment at the station, so you can just board the bus when it arrives
  • Total right-of-way at intersections
  • Its own corridor
  • Platform-level boarding (meaning there’s no need to lower the the bus for wheelchairs and walkers)

It would also run between designated stations, more similar to the current MetroRail stations than bus shelters. Find all the specs of a proper BRT system here.

WHAT BUS RAPID TRANSIT ISN’T:

It is not an express bus that just gets you from Point A to Point B more quickly because it stops fewer places. An example of that: the current South Miami-Dade Busway. That’s not to knock it – it’s been a huge help to South Dade residents. But it’s not bus rapid transit.

WHO HAS IT:

Bus rapid transit is all over Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina, and China. Cleveland’s HealthLine is the highest ranked bus rapid transit system in the U.S.

WHY SOUTH DADE RESIDENTS AND REPS DON’T WANT IT:

They were promised rail, and it’s kind of the gold standard in transit. Plus, bus rapid transit is also pretty easy to water down. Maybe car commuters raise a huge stink over the total right of way, and that gets eliminated, or the budget gets tight, so the raised platform is done away with. Then, unless you’ve got politicians who will fight to protect the original plan, you are basically left with a glorified express bus.

THE ALTERNATIVE:

If the Transportation Planning Organization rejects the BRT proposal, then rail, either an extension of the MetroRail or a light rail system, is on the table.

But whether and when rail could actually happen is TBD. According to the consulting company, building a bus rapid transit system for South Dade would cost between $250 million and $300 million. Rail would cost between $1.3 and $1.5 billion.

WHAT'S NEW IN THE 305

Worries about Roe v. Wade. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s looming retirement – and the announcement of President Trump’s nominee to replace him last night – is dominating national headlines, as is the potential impact on abortion rights. The Tampa Bay Times took a look at what could happen if the landmark decision is overturned, including what the state would have to do to push through an abortion ban, what’s been attempted in the past, and where the gubernatorial candidates stand on the issue. (Tampa Bay Times)

We back and we back. No part of Miami Beach felt the impact of Hurricane Irma as much as a stretch of beach between 66th and 68th Streets, where literal tons of sand were completely washed away. To restore it, the county now plans to drop about 32,000 tons of sand along that 1,000-foot area. The full restoration project is set to take about four months. (Miami Herald)

Spice up your life. Summer means a lot of things here in SoFlo – heat, thunderstorms, high electricity bills – but one of the good things is the annual reveal of the Miami Spice menu. The mega-promotional event includes deals at hundreds of restaurants all over town and is a great chance to grab a usually pricey meal with friends, impress a date or celebrate a special occasion. Spice lasts from Aug. 1 through the end of September. (Miami.com)

More, more, more. One of Miami’s biggest development projects  is expected to get even bigger. The developers of Brickell City Centre want approval to build two towers next door that would house condos and some retail. The pitch is a sign that Swire, the developer, is pretty happy with how things things are going – but could also mean even more people in a part of the city that’s already packed to the brim. (Miami Herald)

A local making waves. If you’re a fan of World War II-era dramas then we’ve got some good news: the film version of the bestselling book, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” is hitting Netflix next month. Ok, TBH we’re not highlighting it because of its great trailer. One of the producers on the film is SoFlo’s own Mitchell Kaplan, the founder of Books & Books. Salute to him and all the book lovers out there. (Town & Country, YouTube, Facebook)

Nice sharks, not mindless eating machines. While most of us hustle for the shoreline when a shark is in the water, some University of Miami students actually try to get closer to them to study the creatures and see how they’re adapting to climate change, human interference and urban development. Their research involves catching and tagging the sharks (in a pain-free way) to study everything from their nutritional habits to their genetic makeup and where the creatures give birth. (Miami Herald)

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EVENTS

OUR PARTNER EVENTS

💁Today: Talk safer personal care at Jackson Hall with an expert (Allapattah)

🍞 Today: Talk food entrepreneurship at Tostada Tuesdays (North Miami Beach

🗣Thursday: Talk diet trends with the experts at Jackson Hall (Allapattah)

😋Saturday-Sunday: Eat all the mangos at Fairchild’s annual mango festival (P.S. How is there still no mango emoji?) (Coral Gables)

🙏Sunday: Learn how to eat like a monk, then catch this flick about reincarnation (North Beach)

🎶Wednesday, July 18: Enjoy some jazz at the Yard (Wynwood)

🎥 Friday, July 20: Travel to Congo with the Black Lounge Film Series (Overtown)

🎥 Saturday, July 21: Catch Krush Groove, based on the origin story of Def Jam Records, with the Black Lounge Film Series (Overtown)

AROUND TOWN

TODAY
🎲 Break out the board games (Kendall)

🎸 Take a trip around the world at World Music Tuesdays (Wynwood)

⚽ Watch France take on Belgium in the World Cup (Various locations)

 

TOMORROW
🚀 Take an intergalactic detour at this talk on 2001: A Space Odyssey (Coral Gables)

🎸 Slow things down at Veza Sur Unplugged, ft. Raquel Sofia (Wynwood)

🎷 Enjoy some jazz in the lobby of the historic Olympia Theater (Downtown)

⚽ Watch Croatia take on England in the World Cup (Various locations)

 

THURSDAY
🤓 Nerd out at Nerd Nite – link fixed! Sorry about that. (Wynwood)

💃 Get your bachata on (Little Havana)

🎸 Rock and Roll at the Anderson (Upper East Side)

🌃 Swing dance under the stars (North Beach)

 

FRIDAY
🎸 Be a deadhead for a night (Wynwood)

🥁 Pay tribute to the Red Hot Chili Peppers (Downtown)

💃 Dance flamenco under the stars (South Beach)

 

SATURDAY
🛍 Support local creatives at the Market for Makers – through Sunday (Design District)

🎶 Get down at the Overtown Music and Arts Festival – through Sunday (Overtown)
☀ Learn how you can go solar (Upper East Side)

🏙 Take a walking tour of Downtown’s iconic architecture (Downtown)

🎟 Get your golden ticket to the chocolate factory (Coral Gables)

 

Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag @thenewtropic on Instagram. See more upcoming events on our events page, and add your own events with a New Tropic membership.

ONE MORE THING.

We wanted to clue you in on a Miami connection to Drake’s latest album “Scorpion.” One of the album’s stand-out tracks “In My Feelings” (which has spawned its own dance challenge BTW) features vocals from the Miami-based duo The City Girls.

Head here to find out more about the duo, the NSFW song that got them on Drake’s radar, and some poorly-timed legal action (one half of the group is in federal detention for credit card fraud😬) that might keep them from taking advantage of their newfound fame.

Either way, we’re glad to see that Drake still has love for the Magic City.

– The New Tropic


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