Urban Transformation

Miami has transformed the area under a railway into a 10-mile long park

A couple sit under a tree on a warm spring day in St James's Park in central London April 23, 2013.  REUTERS/Andrew Winning (BRITAIN - Tags: CITYSCAPE ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY)

The park will be about 100 acres and offer a range of benefits for the community. Image: REUTERS/Andrew Winning (BRITAIN - Tags: CITYSCAPE ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY)

Desirée Kaplan
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When Meg Daly broke both her arms in an accident four years ago, she put her car keys away and started using the Miami Metrorail. She quickly noticed how much space was not being utilized under the elevated train tracks and from there an idea was born. Daly founded Friends of The Underline with the goal to reinvent the 10-mile unoccupied space under the Miami Metrorail from Brickell to Dadeland into a linear park, world class urban trail, and living art destination the local community can enjoy.

The Underline broke ground this week. Set to be built in phases and development, the Underline will begin in Brickell, a dense area that will hopefully boost demand and bring more attention to the project.

Miami isn't the first city to find new ways to reuse vacant urban areas.

If this project sounds familiar, it's probably because there seems to be a growing trend in urban areas to revitalize unused land to create green spaces for communities to use. The city of Detroit recently purchased 26 acres of railroad land to create a new green space called the Inner Circle Greenway. There's also the eight-mile Cultural Trail in Indianapolis, the 22-mile loop in Georgia known as the Atlanta Beltline, and the three-mile long elevated trail in Chicago dubbed the Chicago 606.

The most well known revitalized property in recent history is New York's High Line, an elevated public park built on an abandoned freight rail line in Manhattan’s West Side. New York City-based firm James Corner Field Operations not only helped design The High Line but is designing The Underline as well.

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The project focuses on bringing the community together and building the park sustainably.

Once it's completed, the park will be about 100 acres and offer a range of benefits for the community including an outdoor yoga space, a basketball court, a performance stage, a bike parking garage, communal tables, gaming tables, and native vegetation. The park will also be well-connected to current transit networks so it's easily accessible for residents.

To keep things eco-friendly they're only using sustainable materials during the building process by collaborating with different local South Florida groups to meet sustainable goals. The group hopes to plant many lush trees along the park and the path will be lined with 1,000 native orchids.

Keeping in mind the high crime statistics in Miami, the developers want residents to feel safe and are addressing the need for more lighting, amenities, and wider crosswalks as they plan the park out.

“Miami-Dade County is one of the most dangerous places to walk and bike in the country,” Daly told Fast Company. “We’re not just moving in our cars because we’re car-centric, we’re in our cars because we feel safer.”

With 60 million dollars already raised, the Underline's development should wrap up by 2020. “We are focusing heavily on how existing and future bike plans connect, because a lot of times these plans are siloed,” Daly said. “We’re trying to get this very holistic approach.”

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Related topics:
Urban TransformationNature and Biodiversity
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