Workers are widening Krome Avenue from two to four lanes to make the western Miami-Dade County road less dangerous after dozens of people were killed in crashes over the years.
The work began Feb. 23 and will continue until at least 2022 at a cost of more than $300 million, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
The project comes after much controversy and opposition by groups that feared that widening would damage the Everglades in the northern segment of the road and agricultural communities along the southern stretch. The road is bisected by Tamiami Trail, which farther east is known as Southwest Eighth Street or Calle Ocho.
Improved road safety is the project’s chief goal. So far this year, four people have been killed in crashes while 12 died last year, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Between 2005 and 2011, 28 others lost their lives, FHP spokesman Joe Sánchez said. A significant number of the crashes have been head-on collisions.
“Krome Avenue has always been known as a dangerous road,” Sánchez said. “Many people have lost their lives on that road. But through education and joint efforts with the Florida Department of Transportation we are in the process of making significant changes to improve the safety of the roadway.”
Relatives of crash victims have pressed for improvements, pushing back against opposition.
Last month, two members of the group Lost Lives of Krome appeared before the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization, which oversees transportation projects in the county.
The group had planned to review the project, but discussion was deferred to a later date.
Rita Rodríguez, one of the speakers at the July 28 MPO meeting, said she was grateful that improvements were being made to the road — but said the project should be finished sooner.
“They could easily accelerate it by increasing the number of contractors so they can work simultaneously,” Rodríguez said in a telephone interview.
Her son, Anthony Rodriguez, was killed on Krome Avenue last year in a head-on collision. Anthony Rodriguez and a friend, Gabriel Hernández, died on Jan. 19, 2014. Anthony, 22, was a DJ and music producer known as SonicC in the South Florida club scene.
Krome Avenue improvements extend from Okeechobee Road in the north to Florida City in the south.
The stretch from Southwest 272nd Street to Okeechobee Road will include four 12-foot travel lanes (two in each direction), separated by a 40-foot grass median and guardrail.
Improvements from Southwest 296th Street to 272nd Street, will include four 12-foot travel lanes (two in each direction), separated by a 30-foot grass median, with curb, gutter and guardrail. A bicycle lane will be added within the outside shoulder of the road in each direction.
In addition, there will also be a shared-use path along the western alignment to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians. It will begin at Southwest Eighth Street on the east side of the corridor, crossing Southwest 136th Street to the west side of the corridor and continue to 296th Street.
Other improvements include drainage and lighting along the corridor.
Improvement projects will end at Southwest 312th Street. Starting at Southwest 296th Street, a truck bypass road will be built around the Homestead and Florida City to redirect truck traffic from downtown districts, according to María Perdomo, the project manager.
Construction along the stretch between Tamiami Trail and Kendall Drive began in February.
This particular segment is expected to be completed by December 2017, according to an FDOT document.
FDOT has held several public meetings about the project, and plans another one from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Redland Golf & Country Club, 24451 SW 177th Ave., Homestead
to discuss one of the project segments from Southwest 232nd Street to a point south of 184th Street/Eureka Drive.
Follow @AlfonsoChardy on Twitter.