Miami Is Opening a 10-mile Walking Path With Native Plants, Public Art, and Thousands of Butterflies
When Meg Daly broke both of her arms in 2013, the Miami resident was forced to take the Metrorail to physical therapy. While walking the rest of the way, she noticed that the shadows of the rail tracks created much-needed relief from the beating Florida summer heat — and realized this coveted space was going unused. Thus, the idea of The Underline, a 10-mile linear park under the tracks, was born.
"Miami is one of the most dangerous places to walk and bike in the country," Daly told Travel Weekly in 2017. "The Underline will be an off-road safe haven and the spine of a future biking and walking network that connects our communities."
In the same vein as New York City's The Highline, Chicago's The 606, the Atlanta BeltLine, and London's Camden HighLine, The Underline is a 120-acre multi-purpose and multi-use pathway with green space and public art running right through the heart of the city. Upon completion, it will go from Brickell Station in Downtown Miami to the Dadeland South Station.
In February 2021, the $16.5 milion first phase opened, a half-mile stretch called Brickell Backyard from Miami River to SW 13th Street. It features the River Room with separate walking and biking paths; the Urban Gym with exercise stations, a running track, and courts for basketball and soccer; the Promenade with a 700-square-foot stage, and the Oolite Room with four butterfly gardens — the first of 20 planned. Current public artworks include Edny Jean Joseph's "The Allegory" mural, Cara Despain's concrete piece "Water/Tables," Jennifer Basile painted decor "Disappearing Treasures," and Jamieson Thomas' decorated piano "In Tune With Nature."
In its first year, more than a million visitors enjoyed The Underline, which also hosted more than 50 free community programs and saw thousands of butterflies born among its 30,000 native plants and trees.
Now, eyes are focused on the $20.1 million second phase, scheduled to open in summer 2023. It will cover a section four times as long as the first, a 2.14-mile stretch from SW 13th Street to SW 19th Avenue. It will most notably feature The Underline's first playground and bioswales, green infrastructure, and underground drainage systems, as well as 10,000 more native plants and species, additional public art, community programming, and rest areas. There will also be free Wi-Fi at both Vizcaya and Simpson Park Playground areas, as part of the city's effort to bridge the gap in internet access.
The eventual third phase — from SW 19th Avenue to Dadeland South Station — will be the longest by far, at about seven miles in length, with a projected construction cost of $109 million. Daly says they will be holding a series of public meetings to get community feedback on the direction of the final section before the contract is due as early as June.