Miami-Dade officials on Monday formally broke ground for a new construction project on State Road 836, the Dolphin Expressway, that will cost $149.5 million and take three years to complete.
The new project will involve widening of the toll road by one lane and reconstruction of interchanges from Northwest 57th Avenue east to 27th Avenue, officials said.
The announcement of the new project comes as the $560 million reconstruction of the massive interchange between 836 and State Road 826, the Palmetto Expressway, is winding down. Expected to be completed in 2016, the 836-826 project still has several components under construction and traffic pattern changes coming, including a major one this weekend.
Implementation of this traffic shift had been planned two weeks ago but was postponed because of rain. The modification actually began Sunday when workers opened from westbound 836 a temporary exit ramp to Northwest 72nd Avenue, Flagler Street and 87th Avenue located half a mile earlier than the previous one.
This change is a prelude to the main event early next Sunday when westbound traffic will be shifted onto a new roadway between Northwest 57th and 87th avenues. The change will be postponed again if weather interferes.
Just a few miles east of where the 836-826 interchange is being overhauled, local transportation officials held the groundbreaking ceremony for the new 836 project now getting underway.
“We are going to widen the facility out one lane in each direction,” Javier Rodríguez, executive director of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX), said in an interview before the ceremony.
“We are going to fix three interchanges that have operational deficiencies, primarily LeJeune, that has left-hand exits and entrances. We are going to make them to the right-hand side.”
Transportation experts say right-hand ramps are more efficient because they prevent the weaving and other friction that occurs between drivers when traffic enters an expressway from the left.
In addition, Rodríguez said, as part of the project the inside shoulder of the roadway will be dedicated to express bus service during peak periods. This is a project that has long been pushed by Miami-Dade Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, who was on hand for the announcement.
The 836 widening and interchange reconstruction project is being financed with revenue from tolls. The MDX board of directors in 2013 approved a new toll program under which drivers pay a toll no matter where they enter the expressway on 836. Previously, drivers did not have to pay a toll on long stretches of the road.