School officials: temporary lot safer, closer

West Campus Students will now have to park at J.C. Bermudez Park on NW 33rd St. and 91st Ave.
West Campus Students will now have to park at J.C. Bermudez Park on NW 33rd St. and 91st Ave. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Miami Dade College West Campus students have a new place to park — J.C. Bermudez Park in Doral.

Yellow schoolbuses will shuttle students to and from West Campus on Mondays through Saturdays. The parking lot is located on Northwest 33rd Street and 91st Avenue, and the buses will run from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., college officials say.

The move was made after the college’s almost-finished parking garage collapsed in 2012; four construction workers were killed. Since then, arrangements were made for students to park at Miami International Mall, where shuttles make rounds.

That changed weeks ago — a decision Miami Dade administrators believe will create a quicker commute, increase safety and save the college some money.

“It’s a straight shot to campus,” college spokesman Juan Mendieta said regarding the new ride. “We really hope that this arrangement helps the students; we certainly wish we had a better situation.”

The West Campus is located at 3800 NW 115th Ave. in Doral. The new bus route takes Northwest 33rd Street and avoids several busy roads.

Mendieta said the buses will run about every 20 minutes. He suggested students arrive about 30 minutes before their class time. The commute is about 10 to 12 minutes, he said.

Students’ vehicles will be monitored by security guards. After dark, the city of Doral and the college arranged for lighting. Doral police also patrol on site.

On Oct. 10, 2012, a chunk of West Campus’ five-story parking garage collapsed, killing four construction workers and injuring seven. Since then, the campus’ 6,000 commuter students have been forced to park up to a mile away in the grass along busy 117th Avenue or take shuttles from Miami International Mall — three miles away.

The school told the Miami Herald that the garage case has moved slowly through the legal system — leaving a half-built, fenced-off structure that needs to be torn down and rebuilt.

Mendieta said Monday that the legal process was now over and that the College is “finally moving forward with the dismantling of the garage.”

The victims’ families settled lawsuits filed against the general contractor, Ajax Building Corp., and four subcontractors: MEP Structural and Inspections, Florida Lemark Corp., Coreslab Structures Miami and Solar Erectors US, court records show.

Details on the settlement and what the families were paid was not disclosed.

Taking down the unfinished garage will take three to five months; work started in December 2014. Following demolition, the builder will construct a new garage structure, which will take up to 18 months.

For months after the accident, the campus sat empty, with students being shuttled to different MDC campuses. Miami Dade College has nine campuses, including an entrepreneurial educational center and a medical campus that trains nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Construction on the garage that collapsed had begun in January 2012 and was supposed to be completed by the end of that year. The college was building the $22.5 million garage to accommodate the increasing number of students at the campus, which opened in 2006.

For more information about student parking at West Campus, call 305-237-8000.

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