Town seeks legal solutions to keep bridges closed

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 0 Comments

Town seeks legal solutions to keep bridges closed

Talk between neighbors in Miami Lakes can often turn to traffic, and how a rush hour drive three miles across town along Northwest 154th Street can take 30 minutes or more.
News that closed off bridges at Northwest 154th Street and Northwest 170th Street could be opened to traffic coming from Hialeah, west of Interstate 75, will further burden Miami Lakes streets, the town council and most residents said during a special Aug. 19 meeting.
Those who live in new developments along the interstate in Hialeah seek access to Miami Lakes’ byways to reach the Palmetto Expressway, or schools or businesses in town, officials said.
“The grass is not always greener,” Councilman Jeffrey Rodriguez said during the meeting. As if addressing Hialeah neighbors, Rodriguez warned that if the southern crossing is opened, “You’ll be very upset the moment you cross that bridge and hit rush hour, deadlocked traffic on 154.”
The Florida Department of Transportation owns the two bridges and areas around them, and Miami Lakes owns Northwest 154th Street.
The town also owns to approximately the center line of Northwest 170th Street, which is its northern border.
Surveyors are researching those property lines, town Attorney Raul Gastesi said.
He described several agreements between the parties that may give Miami Lakes control over the western end of Northwest 154th Street and that bridge.
The town wants to build a pedestrian and bicycling park on the road that would extend west from Northwest 89th Avenue and onto the bridge.
In 2003, Miami-Dade County deeded all roads within the town to Miami Lakes, with the exception of Northwest 67th Avenue and Northwest 87th Avenue, according to documents presented by Gastesi.
The town is responsible for planning, design, construction, improvement and maintenance of roads; the county decides access and retained rights to maintain road closures, according to the lawyer.
In recent years, Hialeah and Miami Lakes have signed agreements to close Northwest 154th Street on both sides of the bridge.
“We entered into more agreements into how exactly this was going to be done, and each council passed a resolution to build a linear park over 154th Street,” Gastesi said.
But the county has filed an application with FDOT to open the two bridges, Town Manager Edward Pidermann said on Aug. 29.
The state wants the three local governments – Hialeah, Miami Lakes and the county -- to come to a resolution before conveying the land on either side of the Northwest 154th Street bridge to any of the governments, Pidermann said.
In January, the town council directed Gastesi to begin the dispute resolution process between Hialeah and Miami Lakes, which is continuing.
With town officials hearing that the state may want to open the bridge at Northwest 170th Street, too, Gastesi said it was time to begin the resolution process for that dispute as well.
The town council wants other road construction projects to happen that will ease traffic flow in the region before any bridge is opened.
Those road improvements would include: connecting Northwest 67th Avenue and Northwest 87th Avenue to the Gratigny Parkway; building underpasses for the Palmetto Expressway at Northwest 146th Street and Northwest 160th Street, and connecting Northwest 170th Street to Florida’s Turnpike.
Another bit of contention: the county’s in-house study called for both bridges to open, Pidermann said.
Miami Lakes’ study, which considered development on the east and west sides of I-75, construction of the American Dream Mall and other infrastructure, recommended that the Northwest 154th Street bridge remain closed and that Northwest 170th Street bridge be opened only after the road improvements described above are completed, Pidermann said.
A resident suggested that only on ramps be built to connect Northwest 170th Street in both directions to I-75, something town staff asked FDOT to consider, Pidermann said.
At the Aug. 19 meeting, a father who lives in the Country Club neighborhood said he hoped the Northwest 170th Street bridge would be opened so that the commute to his children’s school would be shorter.
But many other homeowners described fears that their quality of life would suffer, and that drivers would detour into neighborhoods to avoid traffic on the two east-and-westbound streets.
The council directed Gastesi to begin dispute resolution with the county over Northwest 170th Avenue, and to pursue any litigation regarding either bridge.
Council members also voted to begin construction of the 10504 Linear Bridge Park.
Officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking on Aug. 28 for the park. It could cost about $200,000 for the first phase, which is the development of the portion of land that is owned by Miami Lakes.

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