Trucking corridor could link Port of Miami to State Road 836 by '06
By Frank Norton
A $12 million east-west cargo truck corridor linking the Port of Miami to State Road 836 could be completed by mid-2006, pending local and Federal Highway Administration approval.
Commissioned by the State of Florida, the dedicated corridor would let port-bound truckers bypass downtown Miami's congested Biscayne Boulevard.
The thoroughfare is bottlenecked by cargo trucks lumbering in and out of an area heavily traveled by business and tourism traffic.
Seaport economic interests weigh in heavily on traffic improvement decisions as the port adds $8 billion and 45,000 jobs to the local economy, Miami-Dade County officials say. Cargo accounts for 51% of the port's revenue.
The state-commissioned project is undergoing a $300,000 environmental study by North Miami Beach-based Beiswinger Hoch & Associates and would likely be seen as a stopgap measure. It could precede by years or decades a more ambitious proposal for a cargo tunnel under Biscayne Bay through which trucks would travel from Watson Island to the port.
The tunnel project is on track again after spending two years on the back burner. But there is still no schedule for a groundbreaking.
Engineering consultants with Beiswinger propose routing trucks along Northeast Fifth and Sixth streets between downtown's port bridge and an expressway ramp at Third Avenue and Eighth Street.
The ramp would climb between Interstate 95's elevated north and southbound lanes before merging onto State Road 836 west, where those two highways intersect.
Trucks now have no direct link to the 836, also known as the Dolphin Expressway, but must instead travel north-south along Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast First and Second avenues to reach the highway.
That route significantly delays cargo traffic along an already congested Biscayne Boulevard, port and state transportation department officials said.
The new artery would fast-track trucks along an upgraded section of Fifth and Sixth streets straight to the 836 ramp, planners say.
The Eighth Street ramp would require shifting I-95 southbound lanes west and demolishing their eastern shoulder to make room for the ramp. It would also send heavy commercial traffic through Overtown.
Last week, the Overtown Advisory Board and residents listened to Beiswinger's proposal without meeting serious objections. The residents asked engineer Mary Conway to weigh aesthetic components in designing the project that would heavily impact their neighborhood.
The new corridor would not include the building out or widening Fifth and Sixth streets. It could, however, include cosmetic visual barriers around the proposed ramp and corridor, Ms. Conway said.
A public hearing on the project is scheduled for March 2003, she said, at which time a final design could get under way. Following environmental impact studies on the truck corridor, a federal OK would be needed on the corridor's location and design.