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Front Page » Communities » Underdeck under I-395 underfunded $30 million or more

Underdeck under I-395 underfunded $30 million or more

Written by on December 10, 2019
Underdeck under I-395 underfunded $30 million or more

Negotiating the particulars of the proposed Underdeck – the 33 acres underneath a redesigned I-395 – is proving difficult, with a funding gap of more than $30 million, members of the Downtown Development Authority’s

Urbanism Committee learned last week.

Staff of Miami’s Department of Capital Improvements presented a design concept to the Florida Department of Transportation in September, but that department came back with a 12-page list of detailed requests, said Steve Williamson, city capital improvements director.

More worrisome, the transportation department only set aside $13 million for a project that Mr. Williamson said will cost $45 million to $60 million.

The transportation department is building the space; the city is developing and managing it. The disparity between budgets may be because each agency is tracking the monetary sources and potential spend differently, he said.

He said he’s trying to arrange “a true sit-down at the table of people who want to get this done. [Transportation department regional] Secretary [James] Wolfe is an advocate of this.” The city is due to submit an updated design to the state transportation department March 31.

In September, Mr. Williamson described the Underdeck as a place that “comes back alive again and transforms multiple neighborhoods. We quartered our city in the 1970s,” when the connection of I-95 and I-395 took a slice out of Overtown and the Omni area, he said. “It’s been a blight far too long.”

Plans for the re-built I-395 (the much-anticipated Signature Bridge) call for the existing 800 columns to be reduced to 200, opening up the lot underneath for cafes, event space, performance venues, nature trails and room for people to congregate.

In the city’s plan, the earthen berms, 600-foot wall, and chain-link fence that now dominate the space will be gone, allowing light to flood the area. Mr. Williamson said last week that the city had requested three berms be removed; the state transportation department agreed to take out one.

There are plans to build a gradually sloping walkway over the Florida East Coast Railway tracks along the property’s southern boundary, said Colin Worth, Underdeck project manager for the city, in September. That walkway is designed to tie the Underdeck to the Frost Science Museum and Pérez Art Museum Miami.

The linear connection to the Underdeck from Biscayne Boulevard will have the ability to draw cruise passengers from PortMiami and people from other areas of Miami, he added.

“The city is so divided, economically and racially,” said authority board member Philippe Houdard, founding partner of Pipeline Workspaces and Skybank Financial, in September. “This has an opportunity to serve as a nexus to think about integrating the communities.”

The downtown authority voted last December to commit $50,000 to the Underdeck’s design. The Miami Parking Authority also committed $50,000, Mr. Williamson said after the September meeting. The Omni Community Redevelopment Agency agreed to contribute $150,000 to the design process, and the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency was said to be considering doing the same.

4 Responses to Underdeck under I-395 underfunded $30 million or more

  1. DC

    December 11, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    What a joke. The promise of the park was one way FDOT helped sell this unnecessary bridge to local officials. A better use of that money would have been to connect the Beach to Miami via BayLink.

  2. Gerwyn Flax

    December 13, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    Why are we not surprised? “The city is due to submit an updated design to the state transportation department March 31”. This really should read “a budget engineered plan”, no different from the original design of museum park. It is what we expect from the crooks in government at the city of Miami. This will only be built according to design if it is done by the Florida dept of Transportation. As I’ve said in the past, handing it over to this city to design, operate and maintain, without strict oversight is a recipe for corruption and disaster. In fact, why do we need a park under a noisy highway when there are two vastly underused parks across the street? The State should pull the plug on this so-called park.

  3. Antonio Alfonso

    December 14, 2019 at 10:25 am

    You are so right. look at the new interchange between the Dolphin and the Palmetto expressway had beautiful blue lights that could change colors on every column making it more attractive , the light have been off for more than 4 months lets not stop there the Claude Pepper fountain in downtown Miami it has not worked in more than a decade and lets not forget the Laser Tower . what do they do with the money . we dont need an 800 million dollar bridge we need an extension of metrorail to FIU .

  4. Steve Hagen

    December 15, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    There is an option for this area which does not require funding!
    Sounds too good to be true, you may think. It is called Miami Sky Park District.

    It would rebuild 395 with all the current improvements north of where it is now but perhaps ten feet higher.

    FDOT would build essentially another deck on top which would be landscaped as a park. The sides would be filled in with concrete block walls, except of course the north south avenues.

    The park gets landscaped by FDOT with funds saved by not building the bridge and from the funds FDOT makes when they sell off excess right of way land they bought to build the bridge.

    The right of way on the north and south sides of the park gets filled in with mid rise to high rise office and residential towers.

    Instead of the much desired connectivity gamble of a huge open space this concept creates unprecedented connectivity on both ground level and park level in what could become a very iconic district. There are so many options!

    Building parks across gulches created by roadways in not new. Building parks in the air over roadways is just beginning. The Highline of New York is a small example which has had tremendous impacts on the vitality of the surrounding areas. There are other examples.