The FDOT’s plans for the repositioning of the I-395 is critical for Miami’s urban core, particularly Parkwest and the M&E District. The plans for the Opus tower just north of the I-395 were canceled to ensure that the project would not be compromised, yet we hear of the $1 billion port tunnel bid being approved, but nothing about the I-395 repositioning. Let’s take a closer look at what the project will entail and how it may affect its surroundings:
Alternative 1(No build):
This involves doing nothing. According to the FDOT, this would not alleviate traffic flow, and corridor deficiencies, not to mention the eyesore that is the existing overpass, which is an impediment for the development in the M&E District as well as Parkwest. In other words, bad idea.
Alt. 2 Image: The orange portions are the elevated highway. The red portions are elevated embankments.
(Elevated Midtown Interchange) This alternative involves increasing the elevation of the current overpass in order to make it less visually objectionable. This would also involve adding additional access and exit ramps at 4 locations. Frankly, this is a supersized version of what we have. No good.
Alternative 3 (Elevated Miami Avenue):
This provides for the expansion for the I-395 mainway to three lanes in both directions instead of two. The I-395 would be elevated as in alternative 2.
Alternative 4 (Tunnel):
Alt. 4 Image: The orange portions are the elevated highway. The red portions are elevated embankments.The green part is the tunnel between Miami Ave. and Biscayne Blvd.
This alternative provides for the expansion of the I-395 mainway to three lanes in both directions and includes a tunnel between Miami Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard.
Alternative 5 (Open Cut):
Alt. 5 Image: The orange portions are the elevated highway. The red portions are elevated embankments.The light blue part is the Open Cut tunnel.
This alternative provides for an extended “Open Cut” tunnel that extends from N.W. 3rd Avenue to Biscayne Blvd. “Open Cut” means that the freeway is dug in without a roof. N.W. 1st Avenue, N. Miami Ave., N.E. 3rd and 2nd, and Biscayne Blvd. would all cross the Open Cut freeway as bridges.
It appears that the Open Cut option is the most desirable as it extends farther than the tunnel in Alternative 4. Furthermore, it will be less costly than building a tunnel. The realignment will open up park space in the Parkwest area, surrounding the upstart urban neighborhood with park land to the north and west. This will make the already desirable neighborhood even more desirable. This might explain why Boymelgreen and Kodsi have snatched up so much land in the area. Furthermore, it will eliminate the overpass which is a major eyesore, security problem, transportation and development impediment.
It isn’t clear how much this project will cost, where the funding will come from, or when construction will begin, but it is clear that local and state officials are intent on making one of the alternatives a reality, and it seems Alternative Five is the most likely to be initiated.