I-395 Tunnel Might Be A Superior Option, But Commissioners Not Pushing For It

Building a tunnel to bury I-395 would be a huge improvement for downtown Miami, but most city leaders seem to have given up on the idea.

At a commission meeting last week where FDOT’s Gus Pego presented plans for the I-395 Signature Bridge, there was little evidence that the tunnel option was gaining any momentum.

Pego said that FDOT had been working on plans for the highway for almost 25 years, and that the city had sued to get FDOT to fund the $600m signature bridge. Pushing for a tunnel could cause FDOT to shift that funding elsewhere in the state, while discarding decades worth of planning to improve I-395.

Commissioners seemed to agree with Pego. Questions from commissioners centered on improvements that the bridge would bring, although Francis Suarez said he wanted them to consider a “cut and cover” to bury Biscayne Boulevard. Commissioner Keon Hardemon even asked for additional parking lots, to make it easier for people to drive to Overtown.

Even if the tunnel option dies, there could be improvements for pedestrians. Some green space is being considered as part of the Signature Bridge proposal, and FDOT is in negotiations with Genting to build a baywalk that would connect to Museum Park.

 

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Anonymous
4 years ago

Ok it’s been fun guys…now, can we please get serious and extend the metro rails.

Fredric
4 years ago

Can’t they ever get a clue? Instead of always going for the cheapest option, a little extra investment pays off big in the long run. The article seems to be suggesting that it’s too late for the tunnel option because funding could be withdrawn if they were to vote for that at this juncture. Even if that is true, they had the opportunity to have foresight before and secure funding for a tunnel rather than a “signature” bridge. All the latter does is to place an aesthetic band-aid on the unsightliness of I-395, whereas a tunnel would prove to be both highly functional aesthetically beneficial. And removing the surface obstruction of I-395 would allow for more gentrification of a broad swath of downtown Miami and adjacent areas, allowing for large developments to be valuable in that area.

Marc305
4 years ago

I was going to post until I read your entry, you said everything I wanted to say word for word. Miami politicians will never learn, they turned down a tunnel project going from Brickell Ave into downtown back in the 60’s and again in the 90’s. Imagine how that project would have benefit Miami today. Same thing will be said about this mistake in the future. SMH.

Anonymous
4 years ago

Ok, I want a tunnel as much as the next person, but can we please stop spreading the mistruth that the I-395 renovation is simply lipstick on a pig? Sure, that is pretty much the case with the “iconic” (read: gaudy) design, but the renewed bridge itself will significantly improve traffic, both automotive and pedestrian, and better connect the areas (physically, obviously not visually).

Anonymous
4 years ago

Could you please develop on how the new bridge will ‘improve traffic’….?

Anonymous
4 years ago

People pile up to get on and off exits, which will seemingly be mitigated, and pedestrians can travel under the bridge without playing Frogger

Anonymous
4 years ago

The new I-395 road will still be as ugly as the old I-395 road and you can’t hide that fact with faux $600 million bridge just because you call it Signature. It’s like putting plastic covers on your brand new sofa.

Raid
4 years ago

we might miss the chance to build a $600 million bridge…., a bridge that we don’t need cause we already have one….hello what we need is ‘0’ obstruction not a bigger obstruction.

GyroMeat
4 years ago

Why is this even an issue? does the bridge need repair? What did I miss? Or is there a Calatrava wanna-be out there with political friends?

marc
4 years ago

They are rearranging the on and off ramps so people don’t have to shoot across lanes to make exits as well as getting rid of all the embankments all the way back to I-95. I-395 will be entirely on pedestals clearing out space underneath.

suomynona
4 years ago

There will be significantly less columns and the roadway will be elevated higher, but the embankments will remain. The entrance/exit ramps are still going to include embankments and the ramps are what make up the majority of the current embankments.

In the FDOT presentations/plans they specifically show these embankments as “mainline fill” and “ramp fill”. They will be underneath all lanes of 395 between Miami Ave and NW 1st Ave. There will also be an embankment for a ramp spanning the full block of Miami Ave to NE 1st Ave. The plans even show options they’re considering for the pattern of the concrete embankments.

They don’t specifically show what their plans are for the embankments currently east of Biscayne. But I think it’s safe to assume they’ll remain due to the entrance/exit ramps requiring them. I even remember a specific complaint about the “bridge” design at this area being that it didn’t provide for any north/south pedestrian access between the museums/park and the old Herald site. That’s why this article says they’re in discussions with Genting.

Anonymous
4 years ago

Good news.

Anonymous
4 years ago

Ah the bridge to nowhere.

suomynona
4 years ago

Why won’t anyone support the “cut and cover” plan? That seems like the functional, cost-efficient middle ground between this garbage “bridge” and an expensive tunnel. The area will never be “connected” with a 250′ tall “bridge” and mile-long bridge/overpass structure splitting it.

It’s still going to have a bunch of dead, underutilized land underneath it. It will still have embankments and parking lots.

Nobody is ever going to hang out and congregate underneath an overpass.

Oscar
4 years ago

Burying 395 makes total sense. I have no idea why anyone would consider burying Biscayne in addition. Feel like that just increased costs, compounded the complexity, and further doomed the plan to bury 395.

Anonymous
4 years ago

our commissioners are all spineless and shortsighted. there are no intelligence officials in this county. we will get a bridge that does nothing for anyone and we will hate it.