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The 'Mother Of Construction Projects' Begins in Miami

Connecting Miami
A new highway construction project will convert State Road 836 into a double-decker freeway.

Many Miami commuters will likely see a change in their route in the near future. 

A massive, $800 million, four-year construction project began Monday, Jan 14, that will affect Interstate-95, Interstate-395 and State Road 836 in downtown Miami. 

The project will convert State Road 836 into a double-decker freeway and build a six arched bridge over Biscayne Boulevard near the Adrienne Arsht Center. The projected is expected to be completed in 2023. 

Linda Robertson, a columnist for the Miami Herald, and Oscar Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Transportation, joined Sundial to talk about the details of the project. 

The Florida Department of Transportation and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority are investing over $800 million "to improve and enhance the flow of traffic and access," Gonzalez said. 

WLRN: First of all, the cost. Some people say 'why are we spending the money for that when we could be putting it towards public transit?' Where's the money coming from for this project?

GONZALEZ: Well $616 million is coming from the Florida Department of Transportation and our partners; MDX is putting in $186 million towards the project.

Will the tolls extend? Will they be shut down during this construction? What could we expect?

The 836 is currently a tolled facility and it will continue to be tolled facility. There are not going to be any tolls placed on 395 or any tolls placed on any of the work.

Linda, you call it 'the mother of all construction projects.' What have you heard from readers about what's about to happen?

ROBERTSON: I think we're all sort of hardened veterans in South Florida of perpetual construction projects, but this one is going to be different. It impacts so many different hubs in the downtown area, in the civic center, Jackson Memorial Hospital area and Miami Beach. I think it's going to have a huge impact on our driving patterns.

GONZALEZ: Let me just say something about the maintenance of traffic. We are doing closures for this project obviously, but they are going to be done during off peak hours. They are going to be coordinated. [We] are going to do everything possible to minimize impacts to the traveling public. In addition we are implementing a smart work zone management system, an intelligent transportation system that's composed of traffic cameras, traffic monitoring devices and portable changeable message signs. These devices are going to be placed well outside of the project limits and they will be providing drivers feedback so that they can make decisions before actually entering the project corridor. 

More about the project is here. Oscar Gonzalez can be reached at ogonzalez@mrgmiami.com. 

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.