Backed Up: Florida’s fast population growth crimps traffic (includes multimedia content)

(Photo by Zuyet Awarmatik on Unsplash)

Any driver in Florida has experienced the struggle of simply getting from one place to another. According to an annual report by private transportation research nonprofit “TRIP”, TRIP’s Interstate Report (2021), Florida ranks among the top five states with the most traffic, with 70% of urban interstates classified as congested. When taking a closer look at the state’s traffic districts as defined by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), it’s clear that district six, the smallest and southernmost region, has the highest Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) of all traffic districts. Miami-Dade and Monroe County, located in district six, are well known for peak traffic and road rage, and those who drive daily in these areas know just how bad rush hour can be.

Recently, the Miami Herald reported yet another devastating crash that caused the entrance to the Florida Keys to be blocked for several hours, stopping northbound traffic from leaving the area. For one hour, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office shut down the 18 Mile Stretch, creating an unavoidable traffic jam that left drivers stranded.

Traffic in South Florida is a huge point of contention for many residents who have witnessed a population influx over the past decade. Over half a million people moved to Florida just last year, putting the state just behind Texas in numeric growth for 2021, which could be an explanation for the state’s high AADT. The Florida Scorecard revealed just this week that Florida’s total population is likely 22.5 million, which indicates that nearly 1 million people moved to Florida in 2022 alone. Florida’s population growth contributes to more congestion of urban interstates and local roadways.

Florida Population 1900–2021 reported by

The Florida Chamber of Commerce predicts that by 2030, Florida will have 26 million residents, claiming that Florida’s highly populated counties, like Miami-Dade and Monroe, can expect the population to become even more dense. Many residents can expect an increase in not only road congestion, a decrease in water availability, and an overwhelming need for schools and other public resources that are likely to struggle under the pressure.

Approximately 3 million people live in Miami-Dade alone, which does not account for the daily commuters and tourist population that contribute to the crowded roadways. World Population Review reported just last year that over the last decade, there has been nearly a 10% population increase within Miami-Dade, and a 16% population increase in Monroe. As of 2021, FDOT’s District six not only had the highest AADT, but also the highest average total traffic in peak direction as a percentage of two-way traffic.

Broward County, which is home to nearly 2 million residents, began the Six Pillars Broward framework, now known as Prosperity Broward, in 2011 to strategically address six core issues facing the county. Developed for just over a decade, the plan now consists of 11 Prosperity Pillars that the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance Foundation is prioritizing in order to solve major community issues like transportation and traffic by 2030.

With such high rates of traffic, it’s important that the counties that comprise FDOT’s District six organize a plan over the next couple years to prepare for a population increase that will impact traffic habits. Prosperity Broward is an example of long-term development of strategic plans that would be highly beneficial to combat issues that Miami-Dade and Monroe County face in the next decade.

Megan is a South Florida native and a senior at Florida International University, majoring in Digital and Interactive Media. She enjoys writing news articles and taking photos to document local stories.