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Front Page » Communities » Tunnel new weapon in Brickell Avenue Bridge jams

Tunnel new weapon in Brickell Avenue Bridge jams

Written by on April 19, 2016
Tunnel new weapon in Brickell Avenue Bridge jams

Directors of Miami’s Downtown Development Authority have come up with a new weapon in their ongoing quest to solve traffic problems associated with the Brickell Avenue Bridge.

For years, the authority has battled the Florida Department of Transportation and the US Coast Guard over what it says are improper bridge openings that snarl traffic into and out of downtown. Most of the openings that occur during restricted times (morning, lunch and afternoon rush hours) are for pleasure craft, authority members have said.

Their attempts to have the Coast Guard enforce its own rules and to have the hours increased so that they fully take rush hours into consideration “are in limbo now,” said authority board member Richard Lydecker, who is senior partner of the Lydecker-Diaz law firm, at the authority board’s meeting on Friday. His firm spent many hours on a pro bono project that analyzed bridge-keepers’ logs and concluded the rules were not being followed.

But, said Jorge Luis Lopez, the authority’s local lobbyist, US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen got involved, saying marine interests along the Miami River would be harmed if the hours during which the bridge is supposed to be locked down (except for emergencies) were enforced as they are written.

There should be a balance of the needs of the marine industry, pleasure boaters and drivers, said authority board member Alan Ojeda, who is president of Rilea Development Group.

But, Mr. Lydecker said, there are only six hours per day when restrictions are in effect. “You can have the other 18 hours,” he said.

Then in March, the authority’s board learned that the countywide Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has fully funded a traffic study to put a tunnel under the Miami River, a controversial idea that has been discussed for years or decades. The study would be crucial for the project to meet approvals.

“We’re hoping the MPO research can be used for the Brickell tunnel, so we don’t have to duplicate efforts,” said Alyce Robertson, authority executive director.

But, pointed out Eric Riel Jr., authority team leader for planning, design and transportation, that study will probably take one year to 18 months.

“There are studies that may very well be done and paid for,” said board member Alicia Cervera, who is managing partner of Cervera Real Estate. The Related Group, she pointed out, has a mega-project, One Brickell, that is announced to rise on the south side of the bridge. And Swire Properties, she said, must have had traffic studies done before proceeding with its massive Brickell City Centre project. “Related isn’t even out of the ground yet,” she said, meaning that the data should be fresh.

“Send it to me,” Mr. Lydecker quipped. The authority should make every effort to get those studies and use the findings to either back the tunnel option or insist on better rule enforcement, board members said.

“Related should be on our side,” said authority Vice Chair Neisen Kasdin, who is office-managing shareholder of Akerman LLP, “unless they have a boat-shipping business we don’t know about.”

8 Responses to Tunnel new weapon in Brickell Avenue Bridge jams

  1. DC Copeland

    April 21, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Hey, “Authority with no authority” you had a chance to get the tunnel project going when “Harriet” was in town digging the PortMiami tunnel. A burg of at least one visionary behind the dais or behind some bureaucratic desk would have thought, “You know, we need a tunnel under the Miami River to relieve traffic. Why not sequester the PortMiami tunnel boring machine before they dismantle it and send it back to France? Bet we could save millions by doing that– and get the project done faster by using the same engineers who dug the port tunnel.” But no, that didn’t happen and so it goes.

  2. Oscar

    April 22, 2016 at 2:44 am

    You realize that Harriet was designed specifically to bore the Port Tunnel. It’s improbable that she would’ve just been able to be repurposed to bore what would’ve been a different tunnel at a different grade through different environmental conditions. Even so, she would’ve likely had to be at least partially dismantled to transport across the bay to Brickell. She was a big girl. See your point on the lack of vision, though.

  3. MichaelG

    April 22, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    What on earth is “controversial” about implementing a plan to assure that traffic flows unimpeded along the city’s vital Biscayne/Brickell corridor? A tunnel isn’t one possible solution… it is the only possible solution.

  4. Miamicityman

    April 23, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Hate traffic? Ride a bike.

  5. John Ficher

    April 23, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    The Coast Guard rules are not being enforced. Instead of making the Government accountable and have the rules enforced, we want to spend additional dollars. Where does that make any remote sense?

    Begin by holding the Government accountable, then see how the traffic is relieved once the rules are being enforced.

    On a similar note, Cargo Ships need to pass through as they are a main driver of our local economy. Cars getting in/out of work is secondary to that. That is my only point of agreement with the rules.

  6. Filiz Kayali

    May 6, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    Ros-lehtinen should live in Brickell and at 8:50 encounter a bridge opening just when we are trying to get to work .. The cargo ships should be using the port of miami..not the narrow river , where in fact the city has allowed so much construction that there is no room to expand the roads… Enforce the hours!!!!!!!

  7. SEFTA

    May 12, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    A tunnel seems logical and not feasible but at what cost? It’s time to stop creating more ways for cars to get into Downtown and to start offering alternatives to driving into Downtown at all. People in Brickell, especially, are offered the best transit system in the area. Park your cars and get the METRO or MetroMover. These millions of dollars should be going to transit and bicycle infrastructure. NO!

    • ray stein

      May 16, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      Yes. Yes and,oh yea, YES