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Traffic meltdown: I-95 flyover closure causes massive Key Biscayne bottlenecks

Cars in a traffic jam on a bridge.
Tony Winton
Key Biscayne Independent
Cars in a 7-mile traffic jam on the William Powell Bridge exiting Key Biscayne, Sunday April 14 2024 The jam came on the first day of two-month closure of the flyover ramp from Key Biscayne to I-95 and U.S. 1.

Miles-long traffic jams left thousands of motorists stranded Sunday, the first day of an I-95 ramp closure that had horns honking, frustrations rising, and little prospect for relief. The construction is expected to last two months.

Some motorists reported delays of seven hours or more. Trapped motorists said they abandoned their cars and walked for miles, saying they witnessed others relieving themselves in the woods.

“This is dangerous! I called 9-1-1 and was told this is not an emergency,” said Lauren Wylonis, a Key Biscayne resident. She said leaving Bill Baggs Cape Florida State park took her husband four hours to get home.

Mayor Joe Rasco called the jam “not acceptable” in a statement. “We were assured it had been studied and was under control.”

He said he will ask FDOT to reopen the flyover “until they can prove to us that they have a viable and effective traffic plan.” Closing parks during flyover construction is also on the table, he said in a text exchange.

Miami-Dade officials are also asking FDOT about potential changes, said Natalia Jaramillo, a spokeswoman for County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

The jam was a perfect storm of the flyover and heavy beach traffic fueled by outstanding spring weather. Adding to the delay: a closed lane near the Hobe Island North park, which is undergoing renovation.

“It’s bad. We expected it to be bad,” said Police Chief Frank Sousa. “I expect it will be just as bad during the workweek,” he said, appealing for patience saying the flyover was in need of serious repairs. “If you can work remotely, you should,” he said.

He said the Village posted extra officers at intersections. Around 7 p.m., an ambulance and Miami-Dade police car were seen racing the wrong way on the southbound lanes to respond to a call. Motorists were forced to pull over the side to accommodate the wrong-way vehicles.

Key Biscayne Independent

Fire Chief Eric Lang said there were three emergency transports off the island to nearby hospitals since about 4 p.m.

Sousa said the Village had been in constant contact with City and County officials and the Florida Department of Transportation, which was doing the work.

Diagram showing traffic closures due to flyover repairs.
Key Biscayne Independent
Diagram showing traffic closures due to flyover repairs.

On Crandon Boulevard, Diego Loaeza got out of his car near the Key Colony intersection, trying to get home after a visit to the beach

“Two hours, more or less,” he said. When told that the ramp would be closed for weeks, his stepped back and replied. “Oh my God,” he said.

This story has been updated with additional comments from Mayor Rasco.

This story was originally published by Stet Palm Beach, a WLRN News partner.

Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc.
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