Consultants Study Will Evaluate Plans To Fix I395
By Frank Norton
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Three plans for redesigning Interstate 395 by raising it, turning it into an underpass or lowering it will be evaluated by transportation consultants.
The effort, headed by the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, is the latest step in a long debate on how to improve traffic flow across downtown Miami’s east-west corridor while fostering urban renewal along its blighted shoulders.
Consultants are to be hired for $65,000 this month and finish by October.
Transportation specialist Jesus Guerra said the plan must benefit all stakeholders: the Port of Miami, Florida Department of Transportation, residents and developers.
The transportation department favors raising and widening I-395, replacing embankments with columns and increasing the north-south traffic beneath the ramps, said Jose Abreu, District 6 manager.
That flies in the face of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz’ support for removing the ramps and counters a design-intensive plan by architect Jorge Espinel of Miami-based Design Center for Urban Revitalization & Education.
Mr. Espinel’s rendering calls for a section of I-395 to be an underpass running beneath what he sees as a performing arts center road from Northwest First Avenue to the MacArthur Causeway.
Under his plan, the city could reclaim the I-395 land, reconnect downtown and promote urban renewal west of the planned arts center.
The plan is creative, says Mr. Abreu, but fails to address transportation and engineering needs. Design difficulties and costs for routing the road underground, he said, are prohibitive.
The third, and least likely plan, said transportation experts, would bring I-395 to ground level somewhere between I-95 and the causeway.