Hanging out underneath train tracks likely isn’t your idea of a pleasant afternoon. But in the case of Miami’s new Underline—a 10-mile, 120-acre park and urban trail—it’s about to become the place to be. The first phase of the project, a half-mile stretch known as “Brickell Backyard,” is now open to the public after seven years of planning and construction.
Set directly below the above-ground Miami Metrorail system, The Underline is a testament to the power of creative urban development. It will serve up outdoor recreation for visitors and locals; it will showcase public art; and perhaps most unexpectedly—yet apt, given its location—it will offer a transportation benefit, too. “A lot of people don’t think about this as a transportation solution, but connecting walking, biking, jogging, and more to transit is probably the lowest hanging fruit for reducing our obedience to the car,” says Meg Daly, CEO and President of Friends of The Underline, the non-profit organization that has overseen the project.
The Underline’s 120 acres were unused spaces, formerly covered by sprawling weeds, sporadic trash, and empty real estate. Now, in the case of Brickell Backyard, which is just north of the Brickell Metrorail Station, they sport a line of domino tables, a community dining table that can seat 50, outdoor ping-pong tables, a basketball court, and a community stage for yoga, movie nights, and live music.
Between these key features, green signage and crosswalks guide folks through the experience as the train periodically roars above. Native landscaping, including gamma grass and scarlet sage, lines the pedestrian areas, with the periodic monarch butterfly landing for a rest (a butterfly gardena also made its way into the plans).
The blossoming space won’t appeal just to visitors; local businesses are excited for it, too. “The Underline is going to be such a huge asset,” says Paul Greenberg, co-founder of American Social, a popular Brickell restaurant and bar. “Connecting the Miami community with one 10-mile park is sure to get people outside, active, and walking around. We’re hoping this will help to boost business along the Miami River and bring people together.”
With Brickell Backyard in the books, there are eight more phases of construction that will be rolled out in the coming months and years. The project is expected to be completed by 2025, with an ultimate cost of $120 million; $100 million of which is publicly funded. When finished, The Underline will stretch southwest along the Miami Metrorail line from the Miami River in Brickell to the Dadeland South Station, touching neighborhoods and hotspots like Vizcaya, Coconut Grove, and the University of Miami along the way, offering locals and visitors an innovative new way to connect with the city.
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