The Palmetto express lanes are open in Miami - and the traffic is hot garbage

The only bearable thing about the Palmetto Expressway in Miami was you didn’t have to pay for it. All that changes now.
The only bearable thing about the Palmetto Expressway in Miami was you didn’t have to pay for it. All that changes now.

You know how you thought that traffic on the Palmetto could never get worse?

Guess what? It’s worse.

The idea that this maddening, sob-inducing, black hole of misery could get worse seems impossible. But the impossible has happened.

Welcome to hell, Miami drivers. The southbound express lanes are now open, and the traffic jams have started. Expect stand stills all day every day. Expect worse than what you’ve been barely surviving for years.

Ridiculous traffic decisions are a way of life in Miami, where powerful tsunamis of stupid threaten our very existence on a daily basis. Driving around this county is as difficult and time consuming as traveling the Oregon Trail in a wagon with three wheels.

We understand that cruel absurdity lies at the heart of all Florida Department of Transportation decisions. There’s going to be a lane closed on the MacArthur Causeway for the foreseeable future? Let’s start construction on Alton Road so that getting to Miami Beach via the Julia Tuttle Causeway is equally aggravating!

And then there’s the horror show currently running for the next four years at I-395 south into downtown Miami. This project is guaranteed to shred patience, civility and the will to live, just so FDOT can build some spider monster sculpture that nobody asked for and a park nobody will ever use unless they’re really into huffing exhaust.

The Palmetto has long been at the top of the list of Miami driving nightmares, what with the legendarily careless drivers and giant trucks fond of ignoring the NO TRUCKS signs (a rule many truck drivers interpret as a mere suggestion). With the arrival of the express lanes, vehicles are backed up long before the big curve, and that’s at 10:30 a.m. During the morning rush hour, you’d better pack provisions and wear a diaper.

The Florida Department of Transportation might have you believe that express lanes ease congestion, but really, they’re just a tax on frustrated people who can afford to pay to not sit fuming in traffic. Right now, the Palmetto express lanes are free, but that won’t last long. And we’ve all experienced the surprise of an $11 express lane fee on I-95, so don’t assume this will be any cheaper.

The back up starts before you hit the first sign. Welcome to hell.

And just wait. As soon as these express lanes are up and running, FDOT will be shutting them down every damn night like they do on I-95. When was the last time you tried to leave downtown Miami after 10 p.m. and found the I-95 express lanes open? When Wynwood was just a gleam in developers’ eyes? Before the Orange Bowl was torn down? When Bill Clinton was president? What are they doing in those express lanes every single night? Whatever it is, it’s not making it worth our while to pay $11 to drive in them.

So try to be strong, Miami drivers. Play calming music. Take deep breaths. You can survive this, even though that wagon train journey is looking pretty good right now despite the dying oxen, impending starvation and occasional cannibalism.