State putting $55 million in multimodal Golden Glades hub

By Rebecca San Juan, News Source @MiamiToday

Commuters passing through Golden Glades park-and-ride may get their wish for a good cup of joe soon. Florida Department of Transportation is investing $55 million to provide a multimodal transportation facility and truck travel center to the current Golden Glades park-and-ride lot by 2020.

The Golden Glades Interchange connects the US Route 441, Florida’s Turnpike, State Road 826, State Road 9, and Interstate 95 arteries.

Plans include a truck travel center on the east side of the lot spanning 10 acres. The proposal includes room for 53 parking spaces, a truck wash and a gas station.

The west plot of land in which the multimodal transportation facility is to be built, currently housing the park-and-ride, stretches 15 acres. The facility adds onto the original plans mentioned in 2016 – 1,748 parking spaces, 4,500 square feet for a transit hub, 10,450 square feet of retail space, and 945 square feet for a break lounge. The renovations include upgrading the multi-bay bus terminal facility and allows for bicycle parking and lockers.

A study from 2016 analyzed the feasibility of additional retail offerings at the Golden Glades site. Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA) worked alongside the Washington Economics Group to understand how the patch of land for the multimodal transportation facility could better serve its customer base.

Visibility remains a major problem. RMA Economic Development Director Kevin Crowder said, “We did talk about signage and aesthetics that would improve some access to consumers. You have a number of people there already, and with improvements they will have even more.”

Another tip: Give the people what they want with convenience stores and fast-food restaurants. Mr. Crowder says travelers usually run on a tight schedule and prefer a facility with some familiar and reliable names.

Mr. Crowder said, “You are dealing with customers that have time constraints so you have to figure out what are those offerings that are going to be the most convenient and the most likely to attract customer spending on the things they need while they’re trying to stay on time.”

Fast-food services offering coffee, the likes of Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Wendy’s, are just a few recommendations that come to mind for Mr. Crowder.

He said, “Something that has a really strong breakfast customer is something that would conserve both the uses of the facility [and] draw some customers.”

Mr. Crowder says a vending machine or two may also be a good idea.

The RMA team sees more transit hubs and service plazas adding a modern twist for customers in a hurry.

RMA Economic Development Project Manager Farrell Tiller said, “Some of the upgrades we’ve seen [include] touch-screen ordering or restaurants using apps so that the consumers can order the goods that they need ahead of time.”

Plazas also incorporate some local chain restaurants and seasonal farmer’s markets.

Seeing that the Golden Glades Interchange lies isolated from neighboring communities, Mr. Crowder and Mr. Tiller say they don’t believe the site will have much economic impact on Hialeah, Miami Gardens or North Miami Beach. Mr. Crowder says strategic renovations will primarily benefit commuters passing by.

FDOT expects to complete the project by January 2020.