Mobility and connectivity are the lifeblood of the region’s economic development and vitality, and yet the region’s transportation systems are overstretched. Its airports and seaports provide a tremendous economic development advantage because of easy access to global markets. However, as the region readies for the expanded opportunities which will come with the widening of the Panama Canal, its seaports are reaching physical capacity (both landside and waterside) and too often are not effectively connected to the highway and rail networks. The region’s major highway corridors, most notably the Interstate 95 corridor, are at capacity. A significant contributor to congestion is the long commute between where people can afford to live and where they go for jobs and daily services. Two other issues are the predominantly sprawling, low-density, single-use development patterns that have resulted in a largely auto-dependent region and a lack of transit or rail alternatives for moving people and goods. While Miami-Dade has a more mature transit network, transit options in other counties of the Southeast Floridaregion are more limited. In addition, national, state, and regional sentiment against raising taxes has made it difficult to properly invest in the transportation improvements that are essential to both economic development and livability. Long commutes between jobs and housing, low-density suburban development, and a lack of transit choice have a significant impact on the use of foreign oil, reductions in air quality, and increases greenhouse gas emissions that occur with increases in vehicle miles traveled. The Partnership must identify and decide how to fund the regional transportation investments needed for economic growth and competitiveness. Those investments need to be made through integration of transportation, land use, and economic development decisions which are essential to achieving a reliable, cost-efficient, financially self-sufficient, fully-integrated, and seamless multimodal transportation system that connects the region and is accessible to all segments of the population and businesses. Such a system of transport should provide to all residents of rural, suburban, and urban communities better access to affordable housing, more transportation choices, and lower transportation costs while simultaneously protecting the environment, promoting affordable development, and helping to address the challenges of climate change (especially sea level rise that may severely impact and/or render inoperative parts of the current transportation system in the Southeast Florida region).
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