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Monroe County leaders have a wishlist for Overseas Highway projects — including a ferry from Miami

the snake creek bridge in islamorada
Nancy Klingener
The Snake Creek Bridge in Islamorada is the last drawbridge on the Overseas Highway.

Monroe County's new transportation master plan has more than 180 recommendations to improve traffic flow and safety on the Overseas Highway.

On Wednesday, county commissioners chose about a dozen of them to prioritize in their wishlist to the state Department of Transportation.

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Among the suggestions: reconfiguring the area known as the "triangle," where U.S. 1 comes onto Key West. That intersection gets backed up a lot, especially during commuting times.

Commissioners also want the state to improve signs for bike and pedestrian paths, as well as adding more bus stops and shelters along the island chain.

They'd also like to see a return to the original way people reached the island chain — by water. One of their recommendations is a ferry from Miami.

"A lot of people like to fly into Miami and take the scenic route in a car, which creates more traffic for us," said Craig Cates, a commissioner from Key West. "If they'd like to take the scenic route on the ferry from Miami, it would be huge."

Monroe County Mayor Michelle Coldiron, from Marathon, said ferries to Cuba used to leave from the Middle Keys as well as Key West and she'd like to see a return of ferry service.

"I just love any idea of a ferry when you look at day trippers, even, from the Miami area, if they had an ability to get on a ferry and get to Key West it would alleviate a lot of traffic on U.S. 1 highway," she said.

You can already travel to and from Key West by ferry — from Fort Myers.

Commissioners also want the state to move up its timeline for replacing the Snake Creek bridge in Islamorada. It's the last drawbridge on the Overseas Highway and when it opens, it stops traffic in what is already a congested area.

The list will go now to the cities in the Keys, then back to the transportation committee before the county commission approves a final version in February.

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Nancy Klingener was WLRN's Florida Keys reporter until July 2022.
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