New construction starts on I-395
Happy Carmageddon, Miami.
And no, we are not overstating the traffic nightmare now unfolding in Miami. It’s bad. We’re talking Dolphins choosing Daunte Culpepper over Drew Brees or buying shrimp from that guy in the parking lot bad.
Normally the beginning of July marks a time of relative peace in our land. The heat is on, but the tourists are gone. Hurricanes are generally biding their time, waiting to terrorize us in August and September. Luxury hotels and spas and restaurants offer discounts because nobody is dumb enough to stay here in the summer. Except us.
But this year, there will be no peace. This year, the Hellmouth has officially opened at the junction of I-395 and I-95, and it’s foul and all-consuming. The southbound I-95 ramp to eastbound I-395 will have one lane closed for four years. FOUR YEARS. Your Heat season tickets just became worthless, and you might want to leave home a day early to get to the Arsht Center when “Hamilton” comes to town. Cross Art Basel events off your to-do list and try not to think about what March is going to look like if Ultra Music Festival returns.
This project has already been called one of the worst highway boondoggles by a report on wasteful spending (and yes, Highway Boondoggles is a great name for an alt country band).
And to make matters worse, even as we’re stuck in traffic waiting to merge into one lane, we can’t even text or tweet our frustrations. Starting July 1, law enforcement officers can pull you over and ticket you for texting while driving.
Now, sensible people already understand the perils of texting and driving. But this is Miami. We think texting while driving is not only a right but an obligation, like banging pots and pans after important sports victories. We have phones, and we have fingers. Surely we’re supposed to use them.
Not anymore. Now you’re actually going to have to talk to the other people in your car. Of course they’re not going to respond — they’re all looking at their phones. And if you’re by yourself, you must sit alone with your thoughts like some kind of lunatic or worse, listen to the radio like in olden times.
It won’t be easy. Expect mounting anger and frustration. Expect mangled and embarrassing voice-to-text messages. And there will be tickets, oh, so many tickets. Florida Highway Patrol is going to be able to afford a new headquarters on Star Island by the end of 2020.
But maybe, just maybe there is a bright side to this, Miami. Just think of all the accidents you won’t get in now that you are going to put down your phone. Tickets are expensive and will cut into your cafecito-and-croquetas budget. You have no choice.
Even the time sitting in traffic could be useful. You could learn many new and exciting things, like how to deploy your turn signals. You will have an opportunity to practice the ancient mystical art of merging. If it’s raining, you can attempt to execute the difficult maneuver of not turning on your hazard lights even though some primal instinct urges you to do so.
And if the downtown situation is so bad you just can’t take it? You can always just stay in Kendall forever. We hear it’s almost exactly like Paris.