Re the Herald’s stories and editorial on the I-395 Signature Bridge Project: This project dates back more than 20 years and has been dominated by public input.
In 1996, the project was stopped because little attention had been paid to Overtown. In 2004, the mandate was changed to include a corridor plan to connect surrounding communities, including Overtown.
From 2004-2009, the Florida Department of Transportation conducted 150 presentations with more than 2,000 community members, dramatically raising public support for a signature bridge to reconnect streets and develop a park-like space underneath.
FDOT continued to hold meetings until the establishment of a local Aesthetics Steering Committee (ASC) in 2013. The ASC met for two years to develop aesthetic review criteria. In February 2016, FDOT issued the request for proposal, triggering the “cone of silence” to curb political influence.
In August 2016, the ASC reviewed 18 designs and approved a shortlist of seven. Those designs were then scored by the full Selection Committee on technical and aesthetic merits, time to build and price. The ASC participated and scored aesthetics. The ASC chair, Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, gave the winning design an “excellent” score. Archer Western-de Moya JV was deemed the best-valued proposal.
While we respect the right to be critical of our design, the Herald does not have the right to present an inaccurate picture of the selection process or impugn the integrity of the people running it. FDOT allowed a local committee to define the aesthetics criteria, shortlist the designs and score aesthetics. Therefore, the winning design cannot and should not be blamed on a “lack” of local input.
It is time to look forward and build this transformative project.
Robert Linares, director of public outreach, Archer Western-de Moya JV, Miami