The Florida Department of Transportation is exploring potential new exits off of Interstate 95, directly into Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. The proposed exit ramps would lead directly into the heart of the area on Northwest 29th Street, according to FDOT documents seen by WLRN.
In recent years, Wynwood has become one of the largest tourist destinations in the region. But to access the neighborhood, I-95 drivers have to either pass it and get off on the north, near the Midtown area, or on the south, near the Adrienne Arsht Center.
“The downside is you have a lot of residential neighborhoods there, and now you have traffic going through their in-streets trying to get into this area as fast as possible,” said Manny Gonzalez, the executive director of the Wynwood Business Improvement District. “We feel that if you study the 29th Street [ramps], we would be able to help our neighboring neighbors, because now people won’t be cutting through residential neighborhoods.”
“It gives you access for visitors into the area, because everyone is lost. It’s very hard to find Wynwood, believe it or not, if you’re from out of town,” Gonzalez said. Early drawings of the proposal were prepared for a meeting with members of the Wynwood community, back in March, but were never reported on.
The idea is being floated alongside "major interchange improvements" for State Road 112 and Interstate 195.
The Florida Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the proposal.
Wynwood has quickly grown over the last decade from an art hub to an increasingly retail-driven hotspot for tourists as well as locals. Recently, the first large-scale residential development in the area, Wynwood 25, opened. Several more condo buildings are being built.
To address the expected population boom alongside increased commerce, a study commissioned by the Wynwood Business Improvement District and released last year made the case for placing a permanent Tri-Rail station at Northeast 29th Street and the Florida East Coast railroad tracks. Tri-Rail trains are expected to pass through the area by year's end, when they will be connecting to MiamiCentral station in downtown Miami.
FDOT had previously agreed to pay for a temporary Tri-Rail station on Northeast 36th Street, with the other half being funded by the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County. Both the city and county have yet to act on either proposed train plan for the neighborhood.
“From an urban planning perspective, it’s important that any new transit stations in Miami’s urban core not only be located near vibrant, mixed-use residential and commercial communities, but also within a neighborhood or area that has the greatest potential for residential and employment growth,” Cesar Garcia-Pons, the author of the study, said at the time. “The results of the study make a compelling case for siting a commuter transit station a bit further to the south.”
At the same time, the proposed new exit ramps would explicitly facilitate the entrance of vehicles into the increasingly congested area. Wynwood already sees more than a quarter of all the paid street parking transactions in the entire city, according to the Miami Parking Authority.
“We still know that this is years away, but it’s something that they’re analyzing right now on a city and a state level to see if it would make sense,” Gonzalez said. “We hope within a year that we’ll have an answer whether this is a go or not.”