Miami’s newest infrastructure project happened after Meg Daly broke both her arms.

I couldn’t do anything for myself for a while,” Daly says. After three weeks of getting driven to physical therapy, she decided to hop on Miami’s Metrorail, a mostly elevated rail system.

“I ended up taking the train, getting off and then walking below the train above me,” Daly says. That’s when she noticed the undeveloped land beneath the train. “I was like: Why aren’t we doing something with this land?”

So she thought of the idea for the Underline, a 10-mile, 120-acre linear park with a walking and biking path that will be built under the rail tracks. The Underline, plans to connect South Miami, Coral Gables and downtown Miami, follows in the footsteps of projects such as New York City’s High Line and Atlanta’s BeltLine. Daly founded the nonprofit Friends of the Underline in 2015 in order to partner with Miami-Dade County — who owns the land — and secure funds for ongoing operations.

After years of planning and having discussions with the community, the Underline broke ground on Nov. 1, 2018, with the first half-mile segment now under construction. The management, maintenance and programming of the Underline will be run by the Underline Management Organization, a nonprofit represented by Friends of The Underline, Miami-Dade County, the Florida Department of Transportation, the Federal Transit Administration and three municipalities.

Design is not the only aspect that the Underline shares with “rails-to-trails” projects around the U.S. The BeltLine and the High Line have both grappled with concerns of lessened affordability and increased gentrification — and the Underline will have to grapple with it as well.

Affordable housing, along with sea level rise, has been a top challenge in Miami for more than a decade, says Ned Murray, associate director of Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center.

“This issue is very significant and one that needs to be addressed and one that has to be addressed locally. There is no federal or state level of funding or anything that could come out of Washington and Tallahassee that could really help with this,” says Murray, who has studied affordable housing issues in South Florida. “More and more states and cities around the country are now looking at solutions that are local, more innovative policy and financing solutions

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