The readers’ forum

How will ‘signature bridge’ affect Overtown?


What is it exactly that has the governor, our county commissioners and other local leaders so enamored with the prospect of the I-395 “signature” bridge? The Herald reported in November that Gov. Scott pledged $600 million in state funds for the project.

Much has been said before and since about constructing a showpiece bridge to replace the crumbling overpass between downtown and the Performing Arts/Omni district.

However, what I have not heard yet is what effect this bridge will have on reconnecting or revitalizing Overtown, the neighborhood sacrificed in the name of progress when the original highway was constructed.

The Florida Department of Transportation says the bridge will provide higher clearances than the current overpass, allowing light to filter down to the street and enhancing the possibility that cultural attractions on both sides of that divide will foster economic growth.

Given the current traffic demands of Perez Art Museum Miami, the future science museum, the arena, the Arsht Center and of whatever fills the former Miami Herald site, a better road is not without merit, one that will be additionally burdened with the port tunnel traffic come May.

But what about the western end of I-395? What benefits will this bridge bring to residents, businesses and property values there?

The FDOT plan only seeks to improve traffic operations on a poorly designed and overburdened corridor.

Frankly, its track record in South Florida on projects of this magnitude is mixed, at best.

The state, the city and local leaders have too hastily dismissed better alternatives.

We should demand more than cosmetic attempts to restitch the fabric of a once-vibrant community blighted by a roadway.

Surely we can demand better, or at least demand to hear the answers to these questions before $600 million of our tax dollars are spent.

Worldwide, cities are tearing down elevated urban highways, burying them or capping them, efficiently moving traffic in and out of downtown centers while creating opportunities for urban regeneration.

Why is it that Miami wants to celebrate its highway with a “signature bridge?”

Daniel Manichello, Miami Beach

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