Homestead City Council at its meeting on Wednesday June 19 agreed to proceed with a project to coordinate
traffic signals at ten
intersections in the City.
City Manager George Gretsas gave a
presentation showing Miami had the fifth worst traffic of any city in the nation. He said the County controls the road systems, assuming
jurisdiction by statute.
“The Traffic Signals & Signs Division of the County Public Works Department is responsible for infrastructure to assure safe and efficient traffic movement,” said Gretsas. “That’s eleven engineers trying to
oversee all 3000 county traffic lights.”
Gretsas proposed installation of smart lights to take out the human element, using technology to move
traffic rapidly. The County adopted this
system but delayed approval specific to Homestead repeatedly.
“We don’t know if they’ll agree to this next month or next year or three to five years from now,” said Gretsas.
“I’m not criticizing; their resources are very
Econolite of Anaheim, California is the County’s preferred vendor of this system. The system works automatically 24/7 with computers to replace engineers driving out to reset individual lights and driving away to hope for the best, according to Gretsas.
Ten intersections in Homestead were
proposed for coverage at an initial cost of $300,170.48. In addition, the County requires
engineering sign-off for permits to install
attachments to traffic light poles. Council’s agenda item uses the Corradino Group for design, preparation and permitting at a cost of $89,000.
“That Group is already working with the
company on Key Biscayne,” said Gretsas. “County permitting is time-consuming and expensive. This is absolutely the County’s responsibility but it could be years until they get to us. This is the practical solution.”
Councilmember Patricia Fairclough got confirmation that the money would come from transportation funds from the sales tax and not from the City’s General Fund.
Four intersections at US1 are listed in the first phase of installation for traffic signal coordination – King’s Highway/15th Street, Campbell Drive, Mowry Drive, and Lucy Street/North Canal. FDOT renovations along US1 due to begin in February 2021 list traffic signal upgrades as county projects that are planned to be kept.
Six intersections along Campbell Drive/8th Street are in the second phase of the Econolite contract. Those intersections with signals stretch from the hospital west to Harris Field at Tennessee Drive/167th Avenue.
“This was a rough process getting county agreement this far,” said Gretsas. “When they see if it works and doesn’t cost them anything and we have two major corridors tested, other intersections could be added.”
Councilmember Jenifer Bailey and Mayor Stephen Shelley asked why Krome Avenue was not included. Staff responded that the truck bypass route along Krome Avenue and Campbell Drive to US1 expected to break ground in September of this year. Light signalization is scheduled to be upgraded as part of that state highway project.
Councilmember Larry Roth asked if the cameras had accident verification capability. Staff said they do but the system is not designed to record or store the data.
Both measures for the contract and engineering for signal coordination services were approved unanimously.
Council also approved two amendments to the master plan for technology mixed use to allow a 120 foot cellphone tower in a building on the south side of Campbell Drive next to Kingman Drive. AT&T contends there is a gap in coverage in the area but Councilmember Burgess pointed out the issue is more about capacity than coverage.
The tower would extend from the first floor of an existing building in front of the Oasis Plaza shopping center. A three year search identified this location as the most secure yet accessible according to the applicant. Three tenants are currently expected for the space the tower provides.
The Council vote on both items was five to two, with Burgess and Maldonado voting no.
A contract was approved with Buxton Company as a retail recruiter and visitor data analyst for Homestead at a cost of $65,000 a year. Two one year extensions at $50,000 each are allowed. The Company provides extensive analytics of credit card data use to encourage retail development.
A $500,000 grant for the Homestead cybrary was approved requiring a $1 million match from City funds already authorized.
Homestead’s Community Development Block Grant action plan must be filed with HUD by August 15 this year.
Because of difficulty in finding any operators for senior citizen programs, Councilmember Fairclough suggested redirecting funds to locally successful STEM programs. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics training on Saturdays has reached capacity locally. By re-advertising available CDBG funding, STEM programming could receive additional resources. The item was carried forward to the July Council meeting.
Council approved a County proposal to acquire right-of-ways along Lucy Street from US1 to SW 187th Avenue at no cost to the city. The North Canal/Lucy Street widening project east of US1 is supposed to be complete by January 2020. Extending the four-lane widening to the west would complete road improvements along this corridor.