Meg Daly, previous marketing director turned founder of the nonprofit group Friends of the Underline, has teamed up with the Miami-Dade County and designers from the James Corner Field Operations, known for their work on New York City’s Highline, in tackling the massive construction job. The 10-mile long mixed-use park will extend from downtown Miami to Dadeland’s South Station, providing urban space for safe transit and recreation.
The target design includes two 10-mile-long individual parallel pathways, with one dedicated to walking pedestrians or those on foot, and the other for bicyclists. The pathways will connect to several landscape spaces such as parks, playgrounds, gardens, and other locations for neighborly social gatherings.
Although Daly has already acquired $90 million in funding from Miami, Coral Gables, Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida, the overall cost of the project could reach as much as $120 million.
Daly credits her drive to complete the Underline project to her recently deceased father, Parker Thomson.
“I had what I call this crazy idea. My Dad was the second person I told after my husband,” said Daly in an interview with the Miami Herald. “He’s always been one of the greatest sounding boards. And he said, ‘I don’t think it’s crazy. I think it’s a great idea.’ ”
Miami’s commitment to the Underline hints at a game changer for the city and its residents. The extensive park will improve the quality of life for the 125,000 residents, connecting neighborhoods, promoting outdoor activities, generating economic productivity, and encouraging Metrorail use and active commuting such as bicycling, its designers say. Developers and property owners have already begun searching for possible café, market, restaurant, and other commercial property spaces for development.
The Underline project has gained attention in its attempt to prioritize safety, too. In a study ranking the most dangerous cities for pedestrians, the state of Florida dominated the top half of the list and has continued to lead the chart over the past four years, according to a study by Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition. The research found that car-dependent communities lacking in wider streets and pedestrian based framework adaptations were the most fatal locations for walkers. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida ranked 11 on the list of the top 20 deadliest places for strollers. The city hopes the Underline will combat pedestrian risks for its residents and drivers.