Thursday, October 12, 2006

What Happened To The Miami Mystery?!

This one is for the locals…..

For many years, going West in Dade County was more or less an all-day experience. You usually packed a lunch, a few gallons of bottled water, a book and maybe some extra work from the office if you wanted to get from I-95 to anywhere else in the city, Which, for the nine of you still reading this who aren’t from Miami, is pretty much where everyone lives. US-1 was an acceptable option if you are the kind of person who enjoys having nails driven into their skulls, and the Airport Expressway was only helpful if you were trying to leave town or get carjacked. And let’s not even talk about the streets. So what was your only remaining option? Good old 836, or as we locals call it, the Dolphin Expressway.

Presumably named because it passes right next to the Orange Bowl (aka where the Dolphins played back when they were actually good), The Dolphin is an East-West toll road that goes from Downtown to the Florida Turnpike, passing by Miami International Airport along the way. The weird thing about 836, though, is that you would be cruising along from downtown on your way to Dolphin Mall or the Palmetto or maybe even Sweetwater if you were lucky, and as soon as you got to MIA traffic came to a dead stop. No matter what time of day or what was going on, between LeJeune Road and 72nd Ave you could pretty much plan on being in your car for a good twenty minutes. And I think that distance is roughly three miles. It made absolutely no sense. At first I thought the delay was caused by merging traffic from The Palmetto Expressway, but it always eased up a good mile before the turnoff. The only explanation was that nobody on that road going West had ever seen an airplane before and therefore had to slow down and stare at the strange flying metal tubes to their right. It was such an odd phenomenon that The New Times dubbed it The Miami Mystery.

Whenever you traveled West, you always had to account for The Mystery. If a drive took twenty minutes at night, it was a guaranteed 40 during the day. So it was with this assumption that I got in my car the other day going to UM from my new home in Little Havana, fully prepared to lay on the horn and curse profusely when I got to MIA. But a funny thing happened on the way to my Road Rage arrest; traffic actually SPED UP. Just a fluke, I figured. Until I did the same drive the next day. And the next. And the next. Still, no traffic. Where’s the mystery? What happened? Are we all used to seeing airplanes now?

I find it impossible to believe that the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDXA – sounds like a club drug, doesn’t it?) actually found a way to lighten traffic on a major thoroughfare. It just isn’t how things work here. But lo and behold unless you are traveling between 3 and 7 in the afternoon, the Dolphin is actually a quick, pleasant way to go West. When did this happen? And more importantly, how did they do it? I see no new lanes. I see no walls blocking people from gawking at Jumbo Jets. Where is my Miami Mystery? Where did it go?

In a way, I kind of miss the Mystery. It used to be a time to catch up with old friends on the cell phone or test out the new brakes on my car. I had even started check email on my phone in traffic, and was eager to utilize my Mystery time to do that when I moved East. Now? Now I get tailgated when my Saturn tops out at 70 in front of the airport. What gives? I’m looking at you, Rick. Alesh. The guy who does Transit Miami. Any of you have any answers for this? The old Miami Mystery has been replaced with a new one: How on Earth did they fix this? And more importantly, why can’t they apply this miraculous solution to the rest of our South Florida roadways? All I have to say is stand by, Palmetto. If it can happen to the Dolphin, it can happen to you.


At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Johnson said...

So you mean it doesn't take all day to drive 10 miles in Miami anymore? I remember when Klueber and I worked at NCL and we were lucky to make the 10 mile drive from Kendall to the turnpike in an hour and a half. Maybe they figured out a way to stop people from having horrendous crashes that would back up traffic. I always wondered how someone could total their car and bring traffic to a standstill when they obviously couldn't have been going more than 10mph in the first place.

At 8:02 PM, Blogger SuperBee said...

What the HELL are you talking about?!

The snarls on 836 West between LeJeune and 72nd are still there in the a.m. They're caused because the left lane ends, and a right lane is formed, that vanishes a mile later, for the Red Road Exit, and then there's the traffic from Red Road merging in. It's still there. Trust me. You must be catching it pre-8:30 when it's not too terrible.

FURTHERMORE, the Miami has fucked things up WORSE, because it used to be that the traffic ended around the Executive Motel. No longer. MDX has created some odd Phantom 826 South lane 2 miles before the exit to 826 North, that you have to merge into when you take Milam Dairy to 836 West to take 826 South, (My office is there, so I have particular expertise in this field) and through which the people who need to take 826 North have to merge. Its really awful.

Lastly... they have opened up a new stretch of 826 South by Coral way, resulting in shifting lanes. It used to be that the bad traffic on 826 South would ease around Calle Ocho. No longer, my friend. Because there's this new stretch of road, and a zig-zag curve in 826 South, People...STOP, because they're clearly confused, and can't navegate a small shift in the road without pulling over and praying. That backs traffic up to a dead stop to 836 West, and onto 836 West, because now there's a bottleneck of two lines of traffic waiting to merge onto 826 South, one in the Flagler Street bypass, and one on the cloverleaf, cutting 836 West down to three lanes in the middle with people having to merge through a line of 826 South bound cars to get to 826 North or to keep going West, which is exascerbated by the Coral Way zig-zag traffic.

It's MADDENING. And I don't know how long it's going to be like this (if it's ever resolved) but all I can say is, from MY experience, all MDX has done is taken a bad problem and made it exponentially worse.

I was actually going to blog about it, but maybe I'll just paste this into my blog, along with my complaint about how people brake on the 826-Miller curve, backing traffic up to Bird.


At 8:04 PM, Anonymous Rick said...

The last time I drove it was Monday afternoon after checking out the Auto Show on the Beach and it was heavy but not at a standstill like it usually is at 4:30. Maybe because it was a holiday? I don't know.

But I have to admit, I don't travel it nearly as often as I used to in the days when it was as you so accurately describe it. I might experience the same surprise you do the next time I try to get to my office in Doral from downtown and don't have to make sure I have at least 1/2 a tank of gas.

I did notice that they seemed to have put up a higher barrier between the east and west sides thus making it virtually impossible for at least some of the eastbound lanes to see MIA. Of course, that does nothing to explain the better westbound flow that you've experienced.


At 8:11 PM, Blogger SuperBee said...

Rick: Traffic was a BREEZE on Monday. No one was working.

At 8:44 PM, Blogger imaginaryconversations said...

I like your writing in this post. I can't put my finger on why. But in some posts it's just blah, and then sometimes it reminds me why I got addicted to this blog in the first place.

At 10:02 PM, Anonymous Miami Transit Man said...

I`ll offer my thoughts on my post tomorrow...

At 10:26 PM, Blogger Manola Blablablanik said...

WD, back in the day when we yokels had nothing better to do, we'd go to the perimeter road around MIA and look at the big metal tubes take off and land. And I believe that to this day, this is still the gawking location for the aeronautically obsessed or the uninitiated into the wonders of flight, so the mystery remains ...

At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say, the traffic is one of the things I miss least about Miami. I just spent 15 minutes under my desk in the fetal position just from thinking about it.

At 5:41 PM, Blogger Alex said...

Manola, the perimeter road is also used to practice those activities in your area of expertise. Airplane watching, yeah right.

At 11:01 AM, Blogger angel, jr. said...

Let us know when it gets figured out. You can always call Dean Cain,the host of Ripley's Believe It or Not--I don't like the old guy from Unsolved Mysteries. He can do a story on it.

At 7:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is Jenny. Yo, the traffic anywhere in Miami at any time of the day sucks. People are from third world countries so they drive like that as well. That mixed together with people from American, soccer moms, tourists and old people causes chaos any time of the day here.

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenny from the block? Yo, what's up? Still scrapping and keepin it real yo? Yo, hit me back yo.


At 9:22 AM, Blogger Freckle Face Girl said...

I don't know about the rest of you, but it seems like the construction on the Palmesso (Palmetto) between Bird & 836 is doing wonders. Most construction projects move slowly or backwards. Every time I drive through there I notice MAJOR changes & traffic isn't nearly as bad as I expect.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger SuperBee said...

Freckle-face girl: Try it going South at 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night and get back to me. Major changes, yes. But MAJOR traffic.

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't possibly believe that this post is truthful in the slightest.

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if White Dade will write about the disgusting brawl that his beloved Hurricanes were in or will he stick to "DADEPROOF" subjects.

Really, what type of animals kick a man when he is down on the ground?

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Playtah said...

I'm gonna have to agree with anonymous on the issue of the football brawl--I hope they all lose their scholarships. That was a fiasco that didn't need to happen.

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They won't lose all of their scholarships but Miami should decline all bowl invitations. I don't think it will happen because Coker lacks any sense of pride and he will want to save his job.

He is probably the biggest joke in college football right now. After his initial inherited team left he couldn't recruit any new superstars and his current roster in made up of underachieving things.

What's that? Larry Joker?


At 4:31 PM, Blogger White Dade said...

Johnson - NO, traffic is still bad. It's just that that aprticular inexplicible snarl seems to have temporarily subsided.

Superbee - Okay, maybe in the morning it's still bad. But it is not the 16-hour traffic jam it once was.

Rick - Agian, 4:30 is one thing. but it being clogged at noon was just wierd. but it seems to not be so bad anymore.

IC - Thanks. this post, though? hmm, well to each their own, I suppose.

MTM - Thanks. Good post.

Manola - yeah, but now you stop on 836 instead.

ElRanito - Yeah. It has that effect on me too sometimes.

Alex - Yet another tihng I could have been doing while sitting in the mystery! oh well..

Angel - That would be one oustanding episode. "Explaining a South Florida traffic phenomenon.' ratings nationwide? Probably not so good.

Jenny - Like I told Johnosn, traffic here is still a bitch. It's just this inexplicible midday snarl that for some odd reason has vanished.

FFG - I never found too much problems with 826 until you got between the Doilphin and 75. Again, touhhg, I never do Rush hour.

Andy - Well, if it weren't true, where would I have gotten the idea to write it?

Anon - Golden Panthers, that's what kind.

Playtah - In order to lose all your scholarships, you have to something really, realyl awful. Ask SMU.

Anon - Bowl invitaitons? that's a good one. as much as I'm sure UM would looove to go the the MOrotr City or Boise Bowl this year, I don't know how much they'll be missing out on. Kind of like how they got a 1-year bowl ban the same yeqar they went 5-6.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger imaginaryconversations said...

I liked this post because there was more sarcasm there than the usual. I'm talking about just the writing, not the topic.

At 9:58 AM, Blogger Chris said...

What's really amusing is that you can see the backups in this area on Google Maps, and clearly see there is absolutely no reason for it.


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