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Front Page » Government » New I-395 bridge getting head start

New I-395 bridge getting head start

Written by on January 14, 2015
New I-395 bridge getting head start

Major improvements to I-395, including a new “signature” bridge, are to begin earlier than planned. The Florida Department of Transportation has moved up its schedule and a call for bids could go out this year.

Construction might begin by late 2016.

The $600 million project will rebuild 1.4 miles of I-395 from the I-95/Midtown interchange to the west channel bridge of the MacArthur Causeway in Miami.

Last October, the department was using a tentative schedule calling for work to begin in 2018.

Asked why the state is moving ahead earlier, department spokesperson Tasha Cunning-ham told Miami Today, “The FDOT is committed to the project and was able to pull the funding in earlier, enabling the project to go to construction sooner.”

Tentatively, she said, bid advertisement will be in the fall with construction to begin at the end of 2016 or early 2017.

One contractor with a global presence is eyeing the job.

Skanska, an international construction company, is to submit a proposal as part of a joint venture, said Mike Turner, program manager in Large Projects Group at Skanska USA Civil. The company, based in Sweden, works internationally. In the US, its units include Skanska USA Civil and Skanska USA Building.

Last October, the state reported that bridge design options had been whittled down to two: Wishbone or Lotus. Now the department is saying a third option might come into play.

“The final design has not been chosen and will be between the Wishbone, Lotus or an option proposed by the design build team,” Ms. Cunningham said. The department and the Aesthetic Steering Committee must approve the design, she said. “We will not know the design build option until the teams vying for the job present their ideas.”

10 Responses to New I-395 bridge getting head start

  1. DC Copeland

    January 14, 2015 at 11:28 am

    If you trace this project back to its origins you will discover the sole reason for it was to eliminate dividing downtown Miami from its northern half. It was never to improve traffic flow because there was never a traffic flow problem– aside from accidents backing up along the MacArthur. The original idea floated by the FDOT was to dig a tunnel. Apparently that was too expensive (although it can’t be as much as the estimated bridge cost). FDOT’s next “solution” was to carve a trench where I395 now is to drop the overpass below Biscayne Blvd. Apparently that was too expensive too. So now we have another– but higher– bridge which, according to FDOT’s reasoning, will create the illusion that downtown Miami is not sliced in two and people, feeling safer now, will be more prone to walk under it to get to and from the Arsht Center, etc. Puhleeze… Talk about a waste of money and a major construction inconvenience everyone will suffer for years. A better solution which would probably have cost less than the port tunnel, would have been to follow their first inclination: tunnel I395 to the MacArthur bridge. This would have allowed Bicentennial Park to grow northward to the Genting property over the tunnel. Instead of getting more park space and a quieter neighborhood– an unrestricted views (the original “prime directive” for the project– we get the same thing for more money (and years of construction nightmares for motorists). Hopefully the French consortium that dug the port tunnel will want to offer another “third option” which would be going back to FDOT’s original idea of tunneling under Biscayne Blvd. Heck, if costs become too extravagant, tax motorists on the tunnel stretch with SunPass’ automatic tolling (with a portion going to the tunnel builders for a set number of years).

    • Brian

      January 14, 2015 at 11:47 am

      DC Copeland, there is now a traffic problem, one that did not exist a few years ago.

      The problem is the PortMiami Tunnel and the trucks that clog the narrow 2 lane section of 395 West towards 95 every weekday evening.

    • MiamiArchi

      January 14, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      While I agree that a tunnel that turns the land above it into a Park would by far be the most amazing option and could transform the area around it; especially in the value of the land next to I-395.
      However you clearly have no idea how much a tunnel costs to be built in Miami. You would most likely be looking at a cost of at least $1 Billion. The price could (probably would) easily go even higher then that because of the multiple exits and entry’s that would have to be spun out to accommodate all the connections I-395 makes to I-95 the dolphin etc. Which means more tunneling potentially at different levels each with Floodgates. I would guess that tunneling could cost up to a Billion dollars more then a Bridge.

      So while I totally think it is worth it as it would be a huge driver for Downtown Miami, the FDOT is not known for their foresight and will almost certainly say it is not worth the price tag.

      • B

        February 7, 2015 at 12:59 pm

        Er…we have just built a tunnel, and the final cost of the “signature” bridge will be over $1Bn. Also what your really “connecting” in that stretch is surface parking lots and vacant lots and abandoned warehouses…which ironically are the victims of having the highway there in the first place!!!

        We should fix whatever is structurally necessary and instead use all that money to build Baylink to Miami Beach and expand Metromover to Midtown and the upper east side–now THAT would connect communities.

    • No One

      January 14, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Agree completely!! I am astounded at how thoroughly crappy this agency is and how they continually manage to out crap themselves with every successive project without fail. FDOT is a terrible liability for this community’s future. Appalling incompetence.

  2. marc

    January 14, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    I personally prefer the covered trench idea more than the tunnel as it sounds more feasible and naturally less costly.

  3. David

    January 14, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Someone needs to start a petition to stop this madness! We do not need a redesigned bridge, we need an alternative. The 395 artery from I-95 to Macarthur Cswy, along with the downtown exit ramp that leads to the urban core, are massive wounds that have damaged the livability and beauty of this magnificent city. They’ve successfully sectioned off entire areas from one another both physically and visually. We need to take a page out of Boston’s playbook. It only takes a google search of “The Big Dig”, which took over a decade to build at a cost many times what this would be, to realize the benefit that was gained. They had the foresight to plan for the city of tomorrow, not just putting a Band-Aid on the city of today.
    And while we’re at it, why is nobody floating the idea of tunnels under the Miami River to link Brickell with the CBD? The city completely shuts down whenever the bridges are up. How long is it before businesses decide they’re losing valuable hours sitting in gridlock traffic and move out of town? As long as the Miami River is used as a functioning industrial port, there needs to be a way to have uninterrupted flow of traffic underneath it. We have to look no further then the New River in Ft. Lauderdale to see how they were able to tunnel US1 under it, and so can we.

  4. Skip Van Cel

    January 14, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    $600,000,000.00 for a fast track bridge for CARS, but Baylink was just scuttled as being too expensive? FDOT is completely out to lunch. I went to the Sweetwater ikea yesterday. 15 miles to my house. 2 HOURS to get back home. The solution is to get cars off the road. We cannot build our way out of this. They should be renamed FDOC, Florida Department of Cars. This constant building of gridlocked highways will be one of the weapons that will kill the golden goose of real estate that so many of us here make a living from. Governor Scott needs to appoint an FDOP, Florida Department of Pedestrians.

  5. Mitch

    January 14, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    I also like the covered trench idea because it should be less expensive (and that is all it matters to the FDOT. By doing this we will gain lots of park space in the middle of downtown with a really integrated north and south of I-395. If there is a petition to sign to ask the FDOT and the city of Miami and the Miami Dade county to stop this madness, please post it to join.

  6. B

    February 7, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Ironically, the current bridge doesn’t “cut downtown in half” because all that’s around there are surface parking lots and vacant lots and abandoned warehouses…which ironically are the victims of having the highway there in the first place!!!

    We should instead build Baylink to Miami Beach and expand Metromover to Midtown and the upper east side–now THAT would connect actual communities where actual people live and work and play.

    Instead we’re basically wasting $1Bn to reconnect a few streets that run between abandoned lots, and that will still have an expressway beside them. More “affordable housing” for the homeless, I suppose…