Can Miami drivers handle this Europization of one of our busiest roadways?
Already known for their independence on regular roads that run in one direction, now Miami motorists will be challenged to drive on the “wrong” side of the road — albeit briefly — and manage not to meet their fellow commuters head on.
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A video released this week by the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority shows what drivers need to learn and then put into practice — and fast, because the first part of the traffic pattern change is coming this month.
And while the video’s clean graphics demonstrate how motorists will soon have to drive on the left side of the street and shows traffic moving orderly and smoothly past ominous “Do Not Enter” signs, we all know orderly and smoothly isn’t the Miami way.
Is this London? Nope. Just a Diverging Diamond Interchange that will change the way we enter and exit the already frightful State Road 836.
A new video meant to educate — and presumably, allay fears — depicts visually the MDX’s plans to make Miami’s drivers do like Londoners do: Drive on the left, if only momentarily when entering and exiting the Dolphin Expressway.
But the Diverging Diamond Interchange — DDI, for short — has sparked confusion, some outrage and plenty of quips on social media. Miami drivers’ habits are the common punchline.
After much planning and construction delays — the Miami Herald reported that the Diverging Diamond Interchange design was to come to State Road 836, one of South Florida’s busiest highways, last summer — the new traffic pattern is nearly here.
The DDI is scheduled to open later this month at Northwest 27th Avenue and the other portion sometime in the fall at Northwest 57th Avenue.
The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority touts the DDI design, part of an $800 million overhaul of the Dolphin Expressway that links Miami-Dade’s western suburbs with I-95 near downtown Miami, as one way to improve the flow of traffic that enters and exits SR 836.
Theoretically, MDX believes that having drivers briefly cross to the opposite side of the road as they pass under the expressway overpass — as in jolly ol’ England — will reduce traffic headaches and “collision points by eliminating left turns cars would take in a traditional intersection.”
Try convincing skeptical Miami drivers that plan holds water (as well as our streets do after summer rains.)
Sample comments on the thread of the video MDX posted on its Facebook page:
So happy I just moved out of Miami lol.
Miami-Dade Drivers: “They can’t make the roads any worse” MDX: “Hold my Beer.”
Please tell me there are cameras there. I love a good demolition derby!!!!
You are going to do this in Miami, have you gone mad. This is going to have serious consequences and major accidents.
And then there’s the occasional optimist:
I have been on them and they work very well, definitely worth a try.
(The Facebook user who posted that bright spot lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, according to his profile.)
MDX has heard your concerns and they want you to know … DDI is a done deal.
New traffic pattern coming to NW 27th & NW 57th Avenues at SR 836. Join us at Grapeland Park at 6:30 tonight to learn about the DDI or watch on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/MDXway/#MDXDDI
“It’s not confusing at all,” Juan Toledo, MDX director of engineering, said at a community meeting in Grapeland Wednesday night, CBS4 reported. “The drivers are going to be channelized into where they need to drive.”
The MDX says, “in the DDI, drivers will cross to the left or opposite side of the road as they pass under the expressway overpass. It is important that drivers follow the traffic signals, directional signage and pavement markings while passing through the interchange.”
Because following “the traffic signals” and “directional signage and pavement markings” is how we roll in the Magic City.
— Miami-Dade Xpressway (@MDXway) July 27, 2018
“The DDI format is proven across the country to relieve traffic congestion, improve expressway access and increase safety for drivers and pedestrians,” MDX said in a statement last year.
A 2010 Missouri Department of Transportation study of a then-new DDI in Springfield was deemed “a huge success” that cut crashes by 60 percent, according to a report in Fortune.
Of course, the only thing Missouri and Miami share is both names begin with an M.