Commissioner Javier D. Souto’s ordinance extending the guardrail requirements of a safety barrier to include parking lots near bodies of water in unincorporated Miami-Dade was approved on Wednesday by the Infrastructure & Land Use Committee.
The new ordinance stipulates that guardrails would be required when new parking lots are constructed, while owners of existing parking lots would be given an 18 month amortization period to set aside the funds for these improvements. Commissioner Souto first became involved in the installation of guardrails when community activist, Jorge Gaston, introduced him to the father of teenage girl who drowned, when her car accidentally fell into a canal. Commissioner Souto also spearheaded a campaign urging the state to install guardrails or cable barriers on state highways adjacent to canals to protect motorists, as well as on medians to prevent head-on collisions. The Florida Legislature did eventually fund this initiative, leading to new cable wire barriers along highway canals and separating the grassy median on the Florida Turnpike stretching from South Dade to Orlando.
“We live in a very beautiful state, but unfortunately we can not avoid building roads and structures near bodies of water we enjoy for recreation, irrigation, storm water drainage, and other uses,” said Commissioner Souto. “All too often, we hear of tragic cases where drivers lose control and accidentally plunge into a nearby canal or lake. Barriers are there to prevent this from happening. We need to consider expanding this protection to commercial properties where parking is also near water. The same dangers exist there as on the road.”