Miami Beach

Miami Beach will rethink aggressive schedule for road projects

In Miami Beach, construction fatigue is infecting much of the island.

After commissioners on Wednesday looked at the high number of public works construction projects scheduled across the city for the next three years, they decided to host a public workshop within the next few months to discuss the order of upcoming projects and how to allow neighborhoods to determine when their streets will get torn up.

Many of these projects would upgrade drainage and raise roads in order to stem tidal flooding for the next 30 years as sea levels rise.

There are several large-scale road and drainage improvement projects scheduled for the next three years across Miami Beach.

Commissioner Micky Steinberg asked for the discussion, which included the presentation of maps that show where construction crews are already working on a slew of road and drainage improvements, such as on Palm and Hibiscus islands, Indian Creek and the central Bayshore neighborhood. In 2018, under the current schedule, a bevy of new and ongoing projects work on both city and state-owned roads from South Pointe up to North Beach had commissioners worried about putting several neighborhoods under the stress of construction dust and traffic headaches.

The rapid pace of the work has begun to cause concern for some property owners in Mid-Beach, where the city wants to break ground on a new road-raising and water main replacement project later this year. In previous public meetings, homeowners said they worry about the impact raised streets will have on their private properties — particularly after the street and sidewalk are raised, water begins to pool on homeowners’ lots and private property is no longer able to drain onto the street.

Residents have complained about this in recent months, pleading with the city to study the impact more before proceeding. Some spoke at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I just think that this really needs to be studied,” said Glenna Norton, a resident on North Bay Road.

The city is developing a new program that would allow homeowners to pay a fee to hook into the street drainage system to drain private property. Such a program would require approval from the City Commission.

I just think this really needs to be studied.

Mid-Beach resident Glenna Norton, on the potential impacts of raising her street

Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, Joy Malakoff and John Elizabeth Alemán were among the commissioners who want to consider tweaking the schedule for the next few years with input from residents. Alemán suggested creating a system where every homeowner in a proposed construction area gets a chance to weigh in on whether they want to put off work until a later date.

“If there’s a particular neighborhood that would rather go later on the list, I think that should be listened to and considered,” Alemán said, adding that it’s not enough to simply take input from homeowners associations. “If there’s any kind of voting, it should be administered by the city.”

The philosophy of the Beach’s public works department has so far been to piggyback on previously scheduled projects and add on work to safeguard streets from tidal flooding in the face of impending sea level rise. In the case of the Mid-Beach work in the La Gorce and Lakeview neighborhoods, the city wants to raise roads and install anti-flooding pumps in addition to installing water mains and redoing sewer connections.

Commissioners agreed to hold another public workshop specifically to revisit the city’s philosophy on how to prioritize neighborhood projects and discuss a way to involve residents when deciding when work happens. The city will announce a date for that meeting later.

This video shows roads and properties in Miami Beach that would be underwater with three feet of sea level rise, which current projections indicate could happen by 2050. The animation was created using LIDAR aerial survey data from 2007 and 2015,

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech