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Home > Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces > Parks Master Plan > Greenways, Trails, and Water Trails

Greenways, Trails and Water Trails

Greenways are about connections: they connect people and wildlife to places, to nature, and to each other. In a time where urban open space is a rarity, new recreational opportunities may only exist in linear patterns- along utility easements, roadways and other transportation corridors and waterfronts.

These paths make it possible to connect people to parks, but also make connections in grander ways. They create more recreational opportunities for residents and visitors; provide an alternative means of transportation; protect natural resources; increase property values; and encourage tourism and business development.

There are several elements of a proper bicycle network including bicycle lanes, bicycle boulevards, shared-streets and off-street paths or trails. It's fairly common to find off-street paths or trails on greenways. Bicycle mode share is not likely to increase without a sufficient network in place.

Providing various options for cyclists is important for different types of cyclists and their needs. With a proper network of facilities that includes greenways and trails, it is not unusual to transition from suburb to city from an unpaved trail to asphalt trail to a bike lane to shared street. All of these segments are part of the same network of facilities and traverse a number of landscapes.

Water Trails add a distinct element to a Greenways system: they add visual interest to a corridor and provide opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and in some cases swimming. A Water Trail can be any linear body of water such as a river or stream, but the most prevalent forms in South Florida are canals and levees.


Vision

The Miami Dade Greenways, Trails and Water Trails Vision is for an interconnected system that provides transportation alternatives and reduces traffic congestion; creates new recreational opportunities; increases property values; protects natural resources; and encourages tourism and business development. These paths strengthen connections across the County, from Broward to Monroe Counties, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Everglades.

The Vision builds upon the corridors described by the North Dade Greenways Master Plan and South Dade Greenway Network Master Plan, and goes farther in linking these green fingers into a holistic, seamless system. Its corridors weave through new parks, tie into bike lanes, and act as verdant channels that draw people into natural resource areas. Water Trails that have already been identified by previous plans are incorporated into the Vision, but greatly expanded upon: all major canals and waterways are accessible for recreation and strengthen physical and visual connections between the east and west edges of the County. Canals and levees managed by the South Florida Water Management District are converted into greenways and trails corridors, and provide an opportunity for public education on Everglades Restoration.

Vision Map
This map illustrates interconnected network of greenways, trails and water trails throughout the County.

  • Examples of Vision

    Snake Creek Trail
    The Snake Creek Canal is a South Florida Water Management District waterway that winds it way into the City of North Miami Beach. As part of the City's new Urban Design Plan, the Canal will become a public waterfront near the densest commercial area. As one travels west and the land use becomes more residential, the treatment of the area around the Canal decreases in intensity and provides a place for community recreation.

    Biscayne-Everglades Greenway
    The new Biscayne-Everglades Greenway is comprised of 43 miles of greenways and multi-purpose paths. It is the only trail in the United States that connects two National Parks. What makes it particularly unique, however, is that the trail travels through the community, creating opportunities for tourism and greater visitation to the parks.

Benefits

In 2005, World leaders through the United Nations, adopted three pillars of sustainable development in the Johannesburg Declaration. This declaration created "a collective responsibility to advance and strengthen the interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development; economic development, social development and environment protection at local, national, regional and global levels."

Community goals and guiding principles follow the three pillar framework, providing for; social, environmental and economic change that will make for a more livable and sustainable community for all.

Residents of many cities and counties around the country have experienced benefits associated with greenways, trails and linear park spaces. From  Pinellas County, Florida to Portland, Oregon, the benefits of trails and open spaces on social, environmental and economic conditions for all residents can be profound.

Greenways and trails can have significant positive impacts to achieving social, environmental and economic goals. Trails increase accessibility to schools, parks, transit and employment for area residents while providing opportunities for healthier lifestyles. Trails and paths can help stabilize or increase property values and create new retail jobs just to list a few benefits. Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department has complied identified trail, greenway and linear park benefits into a single comprehensive document; the Miami-Dade County Trail Benefits Study:

  • Impacts of Trails

    Development of trails and linear parks throughout the County offer extensive opportunities to bring significant positive change to communities. Many benefits associated with trails and linear parks are interconnected and lead to positive changes throughout the community.

    On average, for each mile of an urban trail developed in Miami-Dade County, the surrounding community can experience:

    Social Benefits

    • Enhanced accessibility to schools, parks, transit stations and bus stops for 5,000 people.
    • Reduction in direct medical costs for residents by as much as $365,000 annually.

    Environmental Benefits

    • Reduction in motorized vehicle trips on area streets by approximately 140,000 trips each year
    • Decreased carbon dioxide emissions by 63 tons annually through fewer vehicle trips
    • Saving approximately 6,000 gallons of fuel from being consumed annually per mile of trail
    • $27 million in pollution control savings from new tree canopies
    • Carbon sequestration of nearly 850 tons over a 50 year life span from new vegetation

    Economic Benefits

    • Increased property values by as much as $45 million within 25 years, leading to nearly $1 million in additional property tax revenues.
    • Increased retail sales of as much as $1.3 million for area businesses.
    • Additional state and local retail sales tax revenue of approximately $90,000 annually.
    • The creation of approximately 11 new retail jobs.

    These estimates are based on information from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, United States Energy Information Administration, University of Indiana Eppley Institute of Parks and Public Lands, and Miami-Dade County Health Department

    "Greenways and trails offer a new way of looking at how a community's cultural, historic, recreational and conservation needs fit into an overall picture that also includes economic growth. With their emphasis on connections, greenways and trails allow communities leaders to consider how existing parks and open spaces can become part of a network of green that supports wildlife, pleases people, and attracts tourists and clean industry."
    --Office of Greenways and Trails, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Thinking Green: A Guide to the Benefits of Costs of Greenways and Trails, 1998

  • Social Benefits

    • Destination Accessibility - Increase in accessibility to schools and parks.
    • Health and Wellness - Measurement of increased physical activity expressed in calories burned and community-wide savings in direct medical costs.

    Social sustainability is related to the long-term social health of a community particularly in terms of equality, connectivity, and improvements to daily quality of life for residents. Although the development of a trail will promote healthy lifestyles, improve public safety, enhance educational opportunities, improve accessibility and help preserve an area's history and culture as shown in the previous section, not all of these benefits can be quantified. The two that can be most readily measured are improvements in accessibility and healthy lifestyles.

  • Environmental Benefits

    • Vehicle Trip Reduction - The reduction of vehicles trips leads to a reduction in vehicle miles driven and lowers fuel consumption.
    • Vehicle Emissions - The ability to use a trail instead of driving short trips leads to a reduction in vehicle emissions.
    • Tree Canopy - The planting of trail corridors or linear parks with new canopy trees leads to better pollution control and fresh oxygen generation.
    • Carbon Sequestration - New vegetation in formerly non-vegetated corridors allows for carbon sequestration.

    Most trails are located in highly urbanized or disturbed areas such as along canals, former railroad corridors or utility corridors. Environmental benefits can be limited and full restoration of historical ecological communities may not be appropriate given the level of disturbance within some corridors. In addition, limitations of surrounding developments may inhibit needs of certain ecological communities such as conducting prescribed burns within Pine Rockland communities.

  • Economic Benefits

    • Impacts to Property Values - The stabilization or increase in private property values near a trail corridor.
    • Tax Revenue - Increase in property tax and sales tax revenues due to the presence of a trail.
    • Job Creation - The development of new retail sales, space and jobs as a direct impact from trail users.

    Economic sustainability is the successful positioning of a community for sustainable, long-term economic vitality that enhances the quality of life for residents while strengthening the business environment. Trails are an important element in achieving this goal by helping to stabilize or increase property values and creating or retaining retail sales and employment. Trails can also be the catalyst for redevelopment or development of vacant and underutilized property near trail corridors. Economic improvements can be the driving force to help positive change be realized and through the development of trails, thousands of area residents' lives can be impacted.

  • Ludlam Trail Case Study

    The development of the 6.2 mile Ludlam Trail in central Miami-Dade County will have a monumental impact on the social aspects of daily life for thousands of area residents. By offering a safe route of travel, Ludlam Trail will provide over 30,550 people with access to schools, parks, transit and other destinations. This represents a 38 percent increase in accessibility for area residents.

    Additional quantifiable social benefits the Miami-Dade County community may experience from the development of Ludlam Trail center on health and wellness. As many as 6,500 people will become new exercisers of various levels leading to as much as $2.25 million in direct medical cost savings by the community. These direct medical savings are realized by the new exercisers burning as many as 7.4 million (kilo) calories each week, leading to residents losing or keeping off over 100,000 pounds of weight annually.

    Improvements to mobility and connectivity throughout a community due to the development of the Ludlam Trail will lead to a reduction of approximately 860,000 motorized vehicle trips annually, lead to an average reduction of miles driven by area residents of 860,000 each year. This benefit saves the community over 36,000 gallons of fuel, or the equivalent of four tanker truck of fuel each year, leading to a savings of over $100,000 a year in fuel costs.

    In addition to fuel savings, fewer miles driven means less vehicle emissions. Each year over 390 tons of carbon dioxide will be reduced annually, leading to a reduction of nearly 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide over twenty-five years.

    New canopy trees and vegetation within the corridor lead to astonishing pollution control savings for the entire community. Over a fifty year life span of a typical urban tree, over $170 million in pollution control will be realized by the community through erosion control, recycled water and oxygen generation. Carbon sequestration of nearly 10,000 tons by new canopy trees and vegetation within fifty years is in addition to the reduction seen from fewer vehicle miles driven.

    Ludlam Trail has the great potential of providing the central Miami-Dade County economy with over $540 million in economic impacts over a twenty-five period. Based on comparable research from across the country, private property owners within one half mile of the trail's corridor can expect to experience a premium of between three and seven percent for property values over a twenty-five year period. This translates into as much as $282 million in added real-estate value for homeowners and businesses.

    The additional property values add to local tax revenues by nearly $5.75 million and are just one way residents and the community can enjoy added benefits of trails. With a projected 860,000 users, Ludlam Trail will create trail related retail sales of as much as $8 million annually. These retail sales, will generate between $223,000 and $560,000 annually in state and local sales taxes and will help support as much as 26,500 square feet of new retail space and 68 new retail jobs.

Research and Analysis

Facing the same issues as other large urban areas, Miami-Dade County has developed a new 50 year unifying vision for a livable, sustainable community, anchored by the Miami-Dade County Parks and Open Space System Master Plan. This new vision creates a long-term guide to future park and trail development and stewardship. Most pertinent to this study is the component Great Greenways, Trails and Water trails of the Open Space System Master Plan. This component seeks to provide an interconnected trail system which offers transportation alternatives and reduces traffic congestion, creates new recreation opportunities, increases property values, protects natural resources, and encourages tourism and business development.

The purpose of the Miami-Dade County Trail Design Guidelines and Standards: Ludlam Trail Case Study is to provide specific guidance for the design and development of the Ludlam Trail and provide general guidelines for non-motorized urban shared-use trails and paths throughout Miami-Dade County by building upon the Miami-Dade County Parks and Open Space System Master Plan Great Greenways, Trails and Water Trails Vision. These guidelines and standards were developed to work in concert with other regional and corridor specific studies and planning efforts. In addition, these guidelines and standards intend to inform decision markers on future designs of non-motorized urban shared-use trails and paths within Miami-Dade County.

The needs of a wide array of users have been researched and consolidated into a set of recommendations and standards for Ludlam Trail and non-motorized urban shared-use trails and paths throughout Miami-Dade County.

  • Research of Official Documents

    In an effort to build upon the work of previous planning studies and to ensure the coordination with other official documents that could influence the development of the Miami-Dade County Trail Design Guidelines and Standards, multiple sources of information were researched.  The documents reviewed can be classified into five broad categories; governing codes and ordinances, guiding documents, regional transportation studies, corridor specific studies and design guidelines.
  • Lessons Learned

    Through the review and analysis of several comparable trails and facilities, lessons learned were compiled and opportunities identified for the design of Ludlam Trail and trails throughout Miami-Dade County. These include important findings on the following items:

    • Trail widths.
    • Separation of facilities.
    • Trail surface materials.
    • Trail furnishings and amenities.
    • Street crossings.

Trail Design Guidelines and Standards

The County developed a set of recommendations for specific conditions of Ludlam Trail. A methodical approach which included the research and analysis of existing corridor conditions, best practice principles, national and local comparable trails and facilities, and lessons learned provides decision makers with sound recommendations for the Ludlam Trail and trails throughout Miami-Dade County. Each recommendation is incorporated into the design guidelines and includes:

  • Information on trail width.
  • Trail materials.
  • Trail lighting.
  • Access barriers.
  • Signage and wayfinding.
  • Corridor vegetation.
  • Trail amenities.
  • Street crossings.
  • School and park connections.
  • Trail marketing.

Shared-use paths contain many design elements which can help enhance a trail user's experience and the number of visitors. Eight study areas were identified along the Ludlam Trail corridor based on a number of opportunities and desire for representative areas which demonstrate unique, yet common issues designers will face while planning the trail.

Each study area was observed in detail, researched and analyzed for best practices principles, lessons learned and recommendations. A detailed plan, section and illustrative perspective were prepared for each of the eight study areas to provide decision maker with information for design guidelines for Ludlam Trail and trails throughout Miami-Dade County.

For more information, please call Mark Heinicke at 305-755-7811 or email mheinic2@miamidade.gov.

  • Typical Above-Ground Crossing

    Typical Above-Grade Crossing
    West Flagler Street - Option 1


    Highlights of the plan include:

    • Typical above-grade crossing of an arterial road.
    • Neighborhood and street sidewalk network connections.
    • Utilization of full corridor width for trail user amenities.
    • Visually pleasing retaining wall system.
    • Outdoor seating space.
    • Opportunity to incorporate public artwork.
    • Connection to a municipal park.
    • Forms western gateway to city of Miami.

    West Flagler Street - Option 2
    Rail-with-trail concept

    Highlights of the plan include:

    • Typical above-grade crossing of an arterial road.
    • Neighborhood and street sidewalk network connections.
    • Preservation of active freight rail corridor.
    • Non-residential zoning along trail corridor.
    • Opportunity to incorporate public artwork.
    • Connection to a municipal park.
    • Forms western gateway to the city of Miami.
    Similar conditions at Southwest 8th Street (Tamiami Trail).
  • Typical Local Street Crossing

    Southwest 16th Street

    Highlights of the plan include:

    • Typical at-grade crossing of a local street.
    • Neighborhood and street sidewalk network connections.
    • Wide trail crosswalk zone for user comfort.
    • Incorporation of bike lanes on a local street.
    • Pedestrian crosswalk flashing warning lights.
    • Quick response push button pedestrian crosswalk actuators.

    Similar conditions as Southwest 4th Street, Southwest 12th Street, Southwest 16th Street, Southwest 21st Street, Southwest 22nd Street, North Waterway Drive, Southwest 60th Street, and Southwest 64th Street.

  • Typical Collector Street Crossing

    Coral Way (Southwest 24th Street)

    Highlights of the plan include:

    • Typical at-grade crossing of a collector or minor arterial street.
    • Neighborhood and street sidewalk network connections.
    • Wide trail crosswalk zone for user comfort.
    • Angled refuge island for maximum pedestrian visibility.
    • Incorporation of bike lanes on collector street.
    • Traffic signals for user activated push button.
    • Pedestrian crosswalk flashing warning lights.
    • Quick response push button pedestrian crosswalk actuators.
    • Embedded pedestrian crosswalk warning lights.

    Similar conditions at Southwest 56 Street (Miller Drive) and Southwest 72nd Street (Sunset Drive).

  • Typical Park Connection

    A.D. Barnes Park

    Highlights of the plan include:

    • Typical existing bridge converted to trail use.
    • Extensive park connectivity.
    • Neighborhood and street sidewalk network connections.
    • Group shelter with picnic tables.
    • Connection to trail junction.
    • Decision-making area with distinctive landscape and signage.

    Similar conditions at city of Miami Robert King High Park.

  • Typical Arterial Street Crossing

    Bird Road (Southwest 40th Street) - Option 1
    Below-Grade Crossing

    Highlights of the plan include:

    • Typical below-grade crossing of an arterial road.
    • Neighborhood and street sidewalk network connections.
    • Non-residential zoning along trail corridor.
    • Opportunity to incorporate public artwork.
    • Protection of road viewshed.
    • Limited visual impact on surrounding community.
    • Wide vertical viewshed from trail for an open feel.
    • Sky-light within median for maximum natural light.

    Bird Road (Southwest 40th Street) - Option 2
    Above-Grade Crossing

    Highlights of the plan include:

    • Typical above-grade crossing of an arterial road.
    • Neighborhood and street sidewalk network connections.
    • Non-residential zoning along trail corridor.
    • Aesthetically pleasing retaining wall system.
    • Pedestrian connections at bridge.
    • Arterial Street Crossing.
  • Typical School Connection

    South Miami Senior High Connection

    Highlights of the plan include:

    • Typical school connection route.
    • Neighborhood, street and school sidewalk network connections.
    • Typical trail roundabout.
    • Trail seating opportunity.
    • A safe school bus lane with sidewalk.
    • Potential connection opportunities to private residential development.

    Similar conditions at South Miami Elementary School

  • Typical Neighborhood Connection

    Southwest 76th Street Connection

    Highlights of the plan include:

    • Typical neighborhood connection.
    • Neighborhood and street sidewalk network connections.
    • Group shelter with site furnishings.
    • Trail seating opportunity.
    • Neighborhood meeting location and possible pavilion rental.
    • Income opportunity for operation of trail.
    • Opportunity to patrol trail corridor from vehicle turn-around.

    Similar conditions at Southwest 6th Street, Southwest 19th Street, Southwest 23rd Street, South Waterway Drive, Southwest 44th Street, Southwest 48th Street, Southwest 62nd Street, Southwest 66th Street, Southwest 68th Street, Southwest 74nd Street, Southwest 76th Street, and Southwest 78th Street.

  • Typical Trail Junction and Canal Crossing

    Snapper Creek (c-2) Canal

    Highlights of the plan include:

    • Typical trail junction.
    • Street sidewalk network connections.
    • Group shelter with site furnishings.
    • Trail seating opportunity.
    • Neighborhood meeting location and possible rental income for operation of trail.
    • Transit connection via Dadeland North Metrorail Station.
    • Opportunity for bike-hub within station parking garage.

    Similar conditions at Southwest 80th Street and Southwest 81st Street.

  • Typical Trailhead Connection

    A.D. Barnes Park

    Trailheads are integral parts of any trail system. Providing a visitor center, existing parking, restroom facilities, drop-off, shaded seating, and bike racks, the A.D. Barnes Park trailhead serves both the park and trail with amenities, maximizing benefits. With one centrally-located trailhead, Ludlam Trail will rely on strong connections to municipal and county parks for amenities and parking.

  • Typical Pedestrian Mid-Block Railroad Crossing

    Southwest 6th Avenue Railroad

    Pedestrian railroad crossings require extensive safety precautions to limit trail user access to active rail lines. A minimum 20-foot dynamic envelope should be planned for maintenance access to the rail line. By planning a deflection in the crossing, trail users must slow down and observe proper times to cross the railroad. Neighborhood connections should be planned to encourage controlled pedestrian use of the corridor and maintain strict limited access to the active railroad.

Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces
Maria I. Nardi
Director

Hickman Building
275 NW 2nd Street, Miami, FL 33128
305-755-7800305-755-7800

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