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Key Biscayne flyover closures in July will take at least 24 days

A Miami exit ramp is shown from an aerial perspective, with traffic on the left below.
Florida Department of Transportation
In this undated image from the Florida Department of Transportation, the flyover exit ramp from Key Biscayne is seen. After a traffic meltdown April 14, officials have a new plan to close one off ramp at a time to I-95 and U.S. 1. The work is expected to start in July.

This story was originally published in the Key Biscayne Independent, a WLRN News partner.

Acknowledging a traffic “catastrophe,” humbled state transportation officials outlined plans Tuesday for phased shutdowns of the I-95 and U.S. 1 flyover exits from Key Biscayne in July, projects that will take a total of 24 days worth of road closures to complete.

The first attempt at the flyover fix caused a traffic meltdown, trapping thousands of residents and visitors in a seven-hour backup that stretched nearly seven miles from Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park to the Miami mainland. An intervention by State Rep. Vicki Lopez led to a do-over that will now split northbound and southbound repairs into successive phases.

Each phase is expected to last 12 days, including a weekend. A skeptical Joe Rasco, the island’s mayor, had just one question: “Did you learn from the last time around?”

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“You have our word,” said Mario Cabrera, the Florida Department of Transportation construction engineer for District 6. “We need to accomplish that bridge rehabilitation. I decided to push it out so that we can have a solid traffic control plan, we can have a solid outreach plan, and we can accomplish that work.”

Cabrera was joined by a phalanx of engineers and traffic experts to outline the new plan, which could start as early as the second week of July, officials said. The $4 million project will include repairs to exposed rebar in places.

The flyover work is part of a larger $12 million set of renovations and repairs to ramps, traffic signals, guardrails, sidewalks, and drainage. The overall project is scheduled for completion in spring 2025.

“We didn’t realize the intensity of – especially- the later afternoon weekend load,” acknowledged John Bolton, the senior project engineer, who said the April 14 closure was a “catastrophe.”

“That’s why we aborted the next morning, went back, regrouped. The new plan is to close the southbound first,” Bolton said.

But council members wanted to know how officials would minimize traffic, especially on the two weekends where either the I-95 or U.S. 1 flyover ramps will be closed.

“Those 12 critical days for each side, it seems like to me. It’s a no brainer, there cannot be any events during that time. It just cannot be,” said Brett Moss.

Cabrera said traffic control plans have not been finalized, but said he is working with Village Manager Steve Williamson on planning.

“The issue is weekends,” he said, especially Sunday beach traffic. “The numbers are huge.”

At the conclusion of the presentation, Rasco expressed guarded optimism, but was wary.

“We really trust that we get this right this time,” he said, adding that the project is important to every toll-payer coming onto the island.

“They deserve a good beach day, also.”

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