Some Easter Holiday Florida Observations
Miami: Wild iguanas (not pets) can be seen in some areas of Miami--including many over three feet long. Driving through this Coral Gables-area park was like being in Jurassic Park--they were practically coming up to the car.
Miami, Dadeland Station Development: This "big box" configuration has always interested me near Dadeland Mall at the southern terminus of the Metrorail. I am not for rampant "big box" development within New Orleans, however this design (using multiple story buildings and multiple story parking garages) seems as if would fit the urban fabric better then the normal suburban lot/box method (i.e. the Lowe's on Elysian Fields or the Lower Garden District Wal-Mart). I could see such a redevelopment scheme at the current Carrollton Shopping Center location, the Jefferson Davis/Earhart/I-1o industrial area, or near Causeway/Labarre/Jefferson Highway in Old Jefferson.
Old Homosassa, FL: In part of my "taking a different way home" strategy, we decided to check out the coastal community of Homosassa which could be described as a prototypical example of "Old Florida." While at a dock there I talked to an older man from New England who expressed his anger and outrage over the New Orleans situation during and post-KTMB. I expressed to him my gratitude for his caring as I explained to him that in my opinion (and many others) it seems most of the country has moved on and is indifferent to our fate and completely unaware of the importance of New Orleans to the welfare and economics of our country. After wetting a few lines with him on the dock, we got back on the road and stopped at the above fruit stand. I went round and round about buying one of those pineapple plants seen on the left side of the photo. I decided not to, only because of the moving around of stuff in the car buying one would require.
Tarpon Springs, FL: The Pinellas Trail is the conversion of an abandoned rail corridor to a recreational trail--a "rail-to-trail." The 34-mile trail, seen above in Downtown Tarpon Springs, connects the coastal towns, cities, and parks of Pinellas County along it's path. An aggressive proposal: the railroad corridor that travels through Old Metairie could be converted to such a trail that would connect the neighborhoods of Old Metairie and Lakeview to City Park. This trail would access the proposed Wisner Bike Trail along Bayou St. John. In the process, the I-10/RR crossing near the cemeteries could be reworked where the roadway is no longer an underpass prone to flooding. Also this change would be a step towards creating an internal polder-like system that could geographically-contain and limit the influence of floodwaters if New Orleans gets a repeat performance of hurricane-induced storm surge flooding. The Old Metairie railroad corridor is now a safety liability and an inconvenience, however the corridor as a recreational trail could be an incredible asset similar to the Tammany Trace on the Northshore. Some rerouting (using existing infrastructure) would have to occur for this particular concept to become a reality, but it would not be impossible. In addition to this rail to trail conversion idea, New Orleans does have the unique existence of suitable right of rights for recreational trails because of the levees that surround the perimeter and the amount of neutral grounds (medians) most of our main streets have. Additionally, if the 17th Street Canal, the Orleans Outfall Canal, and the London Avenue Canal are encased with box culverts, these linear spaces would also be ideal for this use serving as pedestrian-based spines connecting Lakeview and Gentilly to the Lakefront. Houma and Terrebonne Parish had the opportunity about ten years ago to seize an abandoned rail right of way of about 20 miles for such a trail, but the idea was squashed as officials collapsed to "concerned citizens" because of the myth that such trails lead to increases in crime to adjacent areas. Ask people up in Mandeville or Covington how many criminals they see carrying stolen televisions along the Tammany Trace. What a missed opportunity to create an amenity--and a property value asset. Pathetic.
Perry, FL: I paid USD 3.04 per gallon to fill up my car. Ouch.
Pensacola, I-10 Escambia Bay Bridge: Work progresses on the new twin bridges along the existing Hurricane Ivan-damaged bridges. The height of the roadway deck of the new bridge is to be twice that of the existing bridge. Although there is plenty of work left to do (and quite frankly it didn't appear much progress was made on the new bridges since the last time I drove by them about three months ago--but I could be incorrect in that memory), the target completion date is December 2006.