South Florida motorists, get ready for one final traffic pattern shift this coming weekend.
The last of the major traffic pattern shifts in the massive renovation of the interchange between State Roads 836 and 826 — the Dolphin and Palmetto expressways — is scheduled to begin Thursday night.
“We will have other traffic pattern changes, but they will not be as big as this one,” said Oscar González, the project spokesman. “This is definitely the biggest shift left.”
Starting Thursday, workers will begin implementing several nighttime closures in the construction area starting with all southbound 826 travel lanes at Northwest 25th Street. On Friday, eastbound 836 travel lanes at Northwest 87th Avenue will be closed. And on Saturday all northbound lanes on 826 at Southwest Eighth Street will be shut down, according to González.
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These closures will allow workers to open the new soaring flyover bridge that connects southbound 826 to eastbound 836 to traffic on Friday. On Saturday, the new eastbound 836 mainline travel lanes will be opened and then on Sunday the other new flyover connection that never existed before from northbound 826 to westbound 836 will be opened.
The flyovers linking 836 and 826 are the centerpiece of the $560-million project that started in 2009.
Workers also will open the new northbound 826 direct ramp to eastbound 836, González said. The entrance to the new eastbound 836 direct ramp is located about a half mile farther to the north than the existing ramp.
The two flyovers to open will provide higher capacity connections between 826 and 836. González said the two flyovers are the highest of all the 45 bridges at about 100 feet above sea level.
“It’s important to know that for drivers on northbound 826 and southbound 826 they must start to take the new flyovers, once they are open or they will be detoured to Milam Dairy/Northwest 72nd Avenue ramp and then routed back to eastbound 836,” González said.
González said the weekend’s traffic shift will bring about some long-term detours.
For example, all traffic coming from Northwest 87th Avenue or West Flagler Street headed for eastbound 836 will have to exit the expressway at the Milam Dairy/72nd Avenue ramp, cross Milam Dairy Road, and then return to the eastbound expressway.
This new maneuver is necessary because eastbound 836 traffic is currently using a parallel road to the mainline lanes.
Drivers who now join the expressway on 87th Avenue will notice the change.
Currently, drivers going eastbound on 836 enter the expressway from a ramp at 87th Avenue. As of this coming weekend, that ramp will detour them down to the 72nd Avenue/Milam Dairy ramp, and drivers will cross Milam Dairy and then go back up to the expressway. This detour is expected to last about three months, González said.
The previous major shift took place last weekend when westbound traffic was shifted onto a newly constructed roadway — also part of the interchange renovation.
The project is currently scheduled to be completed in early to mid-2016.
Alfonso Chardy: 305-376-3435, @Alfonso Chardy