Overpass construction expected to begin in March

Rendering Courtesy Miami-Dade County
Rendering Courtesy Miami-Dade County
Rendering Courtesy Miami-Dade County

The Coral Gables community got a peek at the plans for a new overpass to be built over U.S. 1 highway Tuesday night at a public meeting at the Coral Gables War Memorial Youth Center. The structure will stretch from the University Metrorail Station to Mariposa Court, where Citibank and TGI Fridays are located.

Construction is scheduled to begin March 2015 and completion is aimed for May 2016. Beginning Monday, Miami-Dade Transit will advertise for contractors to build the overpass.

Lane closures on U.S. 1 may be necessary during certain periods of construction. If needed, a single-lane closure would occur between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., and a two-lane closure would occur between 9 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.

“We’ll try to minimize lane closures as much as we can,” said Karla Damian, a Miami-Dade Transit spokesperson.

The overpass is an attempt to increase public safety while crossing the six-lane highway. Pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to take the stairs or elevator up to the walkway whenever they need to cross.

Since 1989, there have been eight students who have been killed or seriously injured crossing U.S. 1, according to a report The Miami Hurricane published in September 2013.

According to Damian, the overpass’ construction will bring more LED lighting and security cameras to the site, increasing public safety. The overpass may also ease traffic flow on U.S. 1 due to drivers no longer needing to wait for pedestrians to cross.

The structure’s design, nicknamed “The Wave,” was inspired by Miami and the water, according to Francisco Alonso, associate vice president of T.Y. Lin International Group HJ Ross, an international engineering services firm.

“It began with concepts of modern and mediterranean,” Alonso said. “There’s a little bit of a mediterranean feel with the stonework, but it’s definitely a modern design with the stainless work and aluminum features.”

There was an average of 1,300 daily crossings over U.S. 1 last year, according to a study conducted by T.Y. Lin International Group HJ Ross.

According to Damian, the overpass’ budget is pegged at $6 million, with 15 percent of funding coming from the state, 27 percent from county transit surtax – additional taxes on already-taxed items – and 58 percent from the federal government.

Though there may be plans for other overpasses to be developed in the future, this is the only overpass in the works on U.S. 1, according to Isabel Padron, a project engineer for Miami-Dade Transit Agency, due to lack of funding.

A resolution passed by the Miami-Dade County Commission in 2007 approved the overpass’ construction. Progress had been delayed by time needed for permit approvals and budgeting conflicts. Partnerships with the Florida Department of Transportation and Federal Transit Administration, along with support from the city of Coral Gables and the University of Miami, helped push the project forward.