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Julia Tuttle Causeway May Be In Line For An Overhead Expressway

Spurred by growing population and area employment demand, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is kicking off public engagement to evaluate planned upgrades to I-195 to add operational efficiency and enhance connectivity and road safety.

One of many possibilities could be an overhead viaduct in the highway’s median.

According to the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization’s Long Range Transportation Plan, the county’s population is expected to increase by 67% and employment by 38% by 2045.

The future project along I-195/State Road 112 from 12th Avenue in Miami to Alton Road in Miami Beach is beginning its project development and environmental (PD&E) study to determine the conceptual design.

“Within the limits of the area, we will address operational efficiencies within the main line and also the exteriors nearby; enhance system linkage and regional connectivity; enhance multimodal connectivity, as well as improve the overall safety of the corridor,” said Ivette Funtenellas, FDOT project manager. “It will also relief existing and future congestion for future travel demand, as a result of the population and employment growth along the I-195, as well as connectivity between Miami and Miami Beach.”

The study would build upon construction and engineering company AECOM’s June 2020 comprehensive planning study, commissioned by FDOT, where alternatives were recommended, including development of an elevated viaduct in the median to provide direct connectivity between Miami Beach and I-95, circumventing all the service interchanges and operational backups that take place along the interstate and its on and off ramps, said Robert Linares, executive vice president of transportation at metric engineering and consultant project manager for this project.

The PD&E study would collect all traffic data, engineer data, surveys and data of existing conditions at the I-195; it would develop a preliminary design; and it would conduct an environmental analysis, before starting the design phase.

Issues to be studied include the lack of bicycle and pedestrian connectivity between Miami and Miami Beach – which could create a connection between existing bicycle lanes in Miami Beach – and it would look into car crash data. In addition, the project would look into a possible access point from Miami Beach to the express lanes off I-195.

From 2015 to 2019, there were 3,461 crashes along the I-195, in 37 locations and seven segments of the interstate, according to FDOT.

“This is above the statewide average for this type of facilities,” said Mr. Linares. “We’re going to be looking at some of the major interchanges, primarily the systems assistance interchange with I-95, and a number of service interchanges with Miami Avenue, Biscayne Boulevard, and Alton Road.”

As part of the PD&E study, the department would look into transportation systems management operations to “find ways to get as much efficiency out of the existing infrastructure as possible, with minimal capital improvements. Some of that may be through the use of intelligent transportation systems, such as camaras,” said Mr. Linares, before the design of the breakthrough improvements take place.

The future design is intended to also build upon projects that are to be done soon, such as the Bus Express Rapid Transit Network, known as the “bus-on-shoulder” project of the Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit (Smart) Plan, to be done by April, as well as drainage and overall water quality, with stormwater runoff flowing into Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve, part of the Outstanding Florida Water, and other resiliency initiatives by private agencies, and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach.

The project also crosses critical habitat areas for manatees, fish, seagrasses, corals, mangroves and other types of marine life and areas of environmental concern, said Caitlin Hill, environmental scientist and field operations manager at Metric Engineering.

Other capacity improvements that are to be evaluated by FDOT are the widening the Julia Tuttle Causeway and a potential widening SR 112 on the west; the widening of some on and off ramps at intersections of the I-195, and the potential for a westbound city road from Miami Beach.

Some other projects by FDOT in the area include a future Golden Glades Interchange Enhancement Project; the I-395/SR 836/ I-95 design-built signature bridge project; the Smart Plan’s Beach corridor; the Alton Road Reconstruction; the Tri-Rail Downtown Miami link extension; and the City of Miami Beach 41st Streetscape Improvement project.

FDOT is working on putting together community advisory groups, composed of business owners, residents, “anyone of interest that wants to sit on that board, to help guide the project’s development,” said Mr. Linares.

There are to be two additional public meetings, organized by FDOT, through the end of the fourth quarter of 2024.


Source:  Miami Today

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