Wednesday, December 03, 2014
By Gisele Regatao : Senior Editor, Culture, WNYC News
Wednesday, June 04, 2014
The Scene: Miami
From WLRN's Arts desk
The "CBGB of the South," Miami's Churchill's Pub, has been the setting for Iggy Pop music videos and a scene from "There's Something About Mary." Now Dave Daniels, who has run the bar since 1979, is retiring.
Tuesday, June 03, 2014
“New York City stop-and-frisk on steroids” is how some have described the Miami Gardens Police Department's approach to questioning neighborhood residents. Since 2008, the number of people who have been stopped and questioned by police totals more than half the area population.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Carl Hart, associate professor in the departments of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University and the author of High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, talks about his own life and his work on the science of drug addiction.
→ Event: Reading at Barnes and Noble, 2289 Broadway at 82nd St, today at 7 pm. Details.
Monday, May 13, 2013
"We can’t depend on the old ways of doing things," says Harry Barley, the executive director of Central Florida’s regional transportation planning agency Metroplan Orlando.
"The old ways have typically been simply building wider roads and newer roads. We’ve got to look for more efficient ways of moving people." Florida may be known for aborting a high-speed rail project in 2011, but come 2014 and beyond, it may be a state of rail investment.
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
"It has the feel of an action movie to it and one you’re definitely not starring in." That's how WLRN's Nathaniel Sandler describes crossing the street in South Florida in a report on why state roads there are so unfriendly to pedestrians.
Monday, April 29, 2013
April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate the occasion, our friends at WLRN have been asking for local poetry that captures the texture of their city: Miami, Florida. Scott Cunningham, co-founder the city's biennial poetry festival, "O, Miami," talks about hometown pride, and finding poetry in everyday exchanges.
Friday, March 15, 2013
A federal grand jury in Miami is reportedly investigating New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez over his role in advocating for the business interests of his friend Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor who's a major contributor to Menendez.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
(Arianna Prothero, WLRN) Over the weekend, public transit advocates in Miami built a temporary train station along an imaginary transit line. They called it the Purple Line, sticking with the theme of Miami’s other two commuter rail lines, the Orange and the Green. Organizers of the project say this mock train station is going to help improve public transit in the city.
One of the goals of the Purple Line project is to highlight Miami’s lack of real train stations by building a fake one along some unused train tracks between to two popular neighborhoods, Midtown and the Design District.
For people in Miami, a city whose commuter rail system lags behind many other major metropolitan areas, it may be a little difficult to imagine a train station with bustling crowds, vendors and live music. The event was intended to help residents imagine such a place.
Florida Atlantic University graduate student Marta Viciedo is one of the people who came up with the idea. Viciedo says the point of the project is this: people won't advocate for more public transportation if they don't even know what they're missing out on.
"It's a demonstration project,” explained Viciedo. “(to show) what the convenience of getting off of a train right there and walking over to Midtown or the Design District would be like."
The Purple Line stop was strategically set up next to the Florida East Coast railway tracks, which are currently unused -- although there will soon be freight trains on the tracks heading to the Port of Miami. Transportation officials and advocates have been talking about the possibility of getting a commuter line on those tracks for years. It’s an idea that may soon become a reality with a project called All Aboard Florida which has plans in the works to start a passenger rail service between Miami and Orlando in 2014.
Scott Guilbert visited the Purple Line on Saturday with his wife and three kids. Guilbert hates traffic so his whole family rode over to the event on bicycles. He says public transit in South Florida has an image problem. “I think people attribute public transportation to something like, for poor people or people who have to do it.”
Changing that perception was the other goal of the Purple Line project. Viciedo, who is studying urban and regional planning, hopes visitors to the pop-up train station walked away with the idea that train stations can be neat places. The Purple Line station also had art vendors, live music and a farmers market.
“The idea is that it’s a place. If you think of Grand Central, you can say it’s a place. You would even say, ‘hey, meet me at Grand Central,’” explained Viciedo. “Smaller subway stations in cities like New York or different places, they’ll have activity at least very close to them. So even if it’s not right in the train station, the train stations act as magnets for economic activity.”
Friday, March 08, 2013
"We love Orlando, we love Mickey Mouse, we love Walt Disney, Universal, the Church Street Facilities, that great mall -- Millenia Mall, but dadgum that I-4, that's a headache," Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad told journalists in Orlando this week.
"We're going to fix that headache."
The Florida DOT is moving ahead with plans for the I-4 Ultimate project- a $2.1 billion dollar fix for I-4. The state's prescription includes adding toll lanes to a 21-mile stretch of the interstate running through the heart of Orlando. The department aims to begin construction in 2015 and complete it by 202o.
Prasad said four so-called "managed lanes" would be added to the interstate, leaving six lanes toll free. Tolls would be higher during heavy congestion periods and lower when traffic is light.
“We use tolls to only keep a certain number of people in the managed lanes so we can keep them going at 50 miles an hour," he said. "Say if I-4's ‘general purpose’ lanes – the toll-free lanes – are congested and you only charge a quarter, everybody’s going to be on it, and now you got another two lanes of gridlock. So what you do is you use tolls as a way to manage capacity coming in to the express lane.”
Prasad conceded there is a downside to building the extra lanes.
"There's going to be inconvenience- you're talking about $2 billion worth of work in a very constrained corridor- albeit a long corridor- getting done over five years. It's a lot of work."
However, Prasad said a similar $1.3 billion expansion project is successfully underway on South Florida's I-595. He said travel times along that stretch of road-- roughly 10 miles -- have only increased by an average of five minutes because of construction.
The state is putting up about half the $2.1 billion dollar cost of the I-4 Ultimate project and courting private investment to foot the remainder of the bill. Under a public-private partnership agreement with the state, private firms would also maintain and operate the toll lanes for a fixed length of time.
Prasad said the public private partnership allows Florida to take advantage of low interest rates and construction costs.
"What the state gets is delivering a project 20 years in advance," he said.
"If we were to do this project on a regular pay-go mechanism, we would be building it for the next 20 or 25 years and chasing congestion like we always do."
Gregg Logan, a managing director at the real estate advisory firm RCLCO's Orlando office, says the I-4 upgrade will help the local economy.
"You don’t want businesses that are here already and thinking about expanding saying, 'Gee, do I want to stay here and deal with this gridlock'- or companies that might be thinking about coming and bringing jobs. We want them to be looking at [Orlando] as a good place to invest because we have our act together."
And he says Florida has to look for new ways to fund infrastructure - with a combination of local government funding, private investment and user fees- because federal government dollars are limited.
"Like it or not that seems to be a collective decision we’ve made as a society for that’s how we’re going to fund infrastructure," says Logan, who adds he's worried the US is falling behind other countries in transportation infrastructure.
"When you look around the world right now and you look at where big rail projects and transit projects are being done, you find that’s in China Brazil, the Middle East," says Logan.
"We’ve sort of forgotten that part of what has made us great and enabled us to have the growing economy we have is that we made these investments in infrastructure. Now we’ve taken that for granted."
The Florida DOT is promoting I-4's managed toll lanes as one part of a multi-modal transport system that could also include bus rapid transit to complement Central Florida's SunRail commuter train. SunRail is slated to begin service in 2014, while private rail companies are also talking about an Orlando to Miami service and a maglev rail linking Orlando International Airport with the Orange County Convention Center.
Eric Dumbaugh, the director of Florida Atlantic University's School of Urban and Regional Planning, supports the addition of managed lanes to I-4. The challenge for Florida, he says, is to develop viable alternatives to driving.
"Our transit system is inadequate in all of our metropolitan areas: it doesn’t take us where we need to go, our development doesn’t link up to it as well as it should, so we’re trapped in our cars."
But Dumbaugh says he's optimistic about Florida's ability to develop a truly comprehensive transportation system, because a new generation is now demanding alternatives to the car.
"You survey millennials- they don’t want to drive," says Dumbaugh, who highlights the efforts of a group of Florida Atlantic University students to set up a transit themed installation in Miami this weekend.
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
As part of our series on unique places around the country, today we visit the Coral Castle of Miami, Florida. Edward Leedskalnin, a Latvian immigrant, carved the series of structures single-handedly and without modern construction equipment.
Friday, November 16, 2012
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, food is on most of our minds. But for Adam Gopnik, author and staff writer for The New Yorker, this is nothing out of the ordinary. In his most recent book, The Table Comes First, Gopnik explores the meaning of food — in culture, in family, and in society.
Friday, June 15, 2012
The European economy is teetering this week, but there’s one place in Europe where the good times are rolling: Basel, the site of the continent’s oldest and biggest contemporary art fair. Art Basel has grown offshoots in Miami and Hong Kong, but the original Swiss edition ...
Friday, May 18, 2012
(Orlando, FLA -- WMFE) The company that wants to begin a privately funded passenger rail service from Orlando to Miami says it expects to get millions of drivers out of their cars and riding the rails once it starts rolling.
Florida East Coast Industries executives are meeting with local authorities as they decide on the exact route of the service.
If the rail service starts as planned in 2014, it's expected to improve connections to regional transportation hubs in Central Florida.
FECI traces its roots back to Henry Flagler, one of the wealthy industrialists who created a network of railways and hotels throughout the state from the late 1800s.
The company already owns 200 miles of track needed for the route- it says it will cost a billion dollars to build the final 40 miles between Cocoa and Orlando, and modify the existing freight track to accommodate the new service, called All Aboard Florida.
Spokesperson Christine Barney says there’s an appetite for intercity rail in Florida, but the failed high-speed rail project between Tampa and Orlando shows tax payers don't want to bear the risk.
This service isn't billed as high speed rail, but it would hit speeds of 100 miles per hour and more, allowing it to make the trip from Orlando to Miami in about 3 hours.
Barney says the company is confident it will get the funding it needs to start in 2 years time.
“We’re already looking at selecting the operators, picking the actual trains, you know, we’re moving very quickly," she says.
"We understand that if the project is going to move forward things have to happen quickly, but we think that’s a reasonable expectation.”
Barney says for the service to be a success, it has to run frequently.
"If you think about the successful rail corridors like in the North East, you can go from New York to Washington, and if you get to the station at 10.15, you've missed your 10, but there's another train at 11," says Barney.
She says the aim is to have between 12 and 14 trains running every day.
That could mean up to 3 million fewer cars on the road, but Barney admits it may be a challenge getting drivers to change their habits.
“It is going to be a learned behavior because people haven’t had this option before. But our initial studies indicate that there are enough people that don’t like the delays that occur, the traffic that occurs, the cost, wear and tear on cars, gas, and the difficulties of driving.”
The train will stop in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, and Barney says there could also be the potential to link up to airports and seaports, including Port Canaveral and Orlando International Airport.
Stan Thornton, project Liaison Manager for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, says the airport is ready to connect to rail- whether it's the SunRail commuter train set to start rolling in 2014, light rail, or an intercity service.
"We've always had rail in our master planning," says Thornton.
"When high speed rail was getting serious we went ahead and laid out how some of the different types of rail would get into here."
Thornton says the airport is talking to Florida East Coast Industries about their plans.
He says the proposed rail service could increase passenger traffic by giving people better connections to the airport.
“People have a tendency of how far they’ll drive before they’ll fly. We have people who come down from Jacksonville, we know that from our garage traffic, so it’s what we call a catchment area and we think that could increase by up to 50 per cent.”
All Aboard Florida is not the only passenger rail service that could be rolling on the east coast. Amtrak, which already has an inland service running from Jacksonville to Miami twice a day in both directions, is also exploring another service along on the same stretch of track. Amtrak has a ridership study underway, but no date on when that will be finished.
Florida East Coast Industries says Amtrak and All Aboard could both use the track without any conflict.
The company says it will have a better idea of the final route of the train and the timeline for completion once ridership, engineering and environmental studies are finished in the next few months.
Thursday, March 08, 2012
(Miami, FL -- Ruth Morris and Arianna Prothero, WLRN) This is a place that’s sunny, warm, and flat. It seems like it should be a pretty perfect place to ride a bike. It’s not.
Last month, the 36-year-old father, husband and amateur triathelte Aaron Cohen was hit and killed by a car while riding on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The tragedy revived an old debate about how drivers and cyclists share—or don’t share—our roads.
WLRN in Miami asked riders and cyclists to to talk to each other -- the conversation made a dynamite podcast, which you can listen to here.
And read the comments -- much food for thought.
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
By Mark Simpson
For close to three years, Miami-Dade Transit workers have been banging out 2.4 miles of track. And now AirportLink Metrorail -- a rail connection to Miami International Airport -- is slated to be finished this spring.
The new elevated rail line will connect Miami’s Metrorail system to a major new transit hub adjacent to Miami International Airport called the MIC, or Miami Intermodal Center. The MIC will be fully operational by 2013, connecting passengers and other transit riders to bus lines, Amtrak, and south Florida’s Tri-Rail commuter service. An automated people mover that goes between MIC and the MIA is already in service.
The AirportLink, which is the largest expansion of Metrorail since it was launched in 1984, is an elevated train -- and one the most complicated transportation projects happening in the Miami area. Paying for the project has come largely through a half-penny sales tax approved for the project by voters in 2002. The sales tax has raised about $404 million dollars; another $100 million has come from the Florida Department of Transportation.
The Miami area hosts Florida's largest collection of rail systems. Orlando is building a commuter train called "SunRail", which is slated to open in two years.