Council hires engineers to student bridge impacts

Sunday, December 3, 2017 0 Comments

A dispute over an FDOT traffic study which suggested opening two 1-75 overpasses near Miami Lakes wouldn’t cause a considerable impact to the town’s congested roadways sparked Miami Lakes Town Council members to conduct their own study to determine the amount of additional vehicles during peak hours.

At a special meeting last month, the councilmembers tapped an engineering firm, HW Locher, to study the impacts of opening up two bridges at N.W. 170 and 154 streets which would link the neighboring city of Hialeah with Miami Lakes.

The contract for the work is worth $99,776.

At the behest of Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Esteban Bovo Jr., FDOT conducted the study earlier this year and suggested the additional traffic wouldn’t cause a major problem, but Miami Lakes disagreed with the results and threatened to file a lawsuit against the county to stymie any efforts to opening up the two bridges.

At issue is an overpass at N.W. 154 Street since Miami Lakes and Hialeah reached an interlocal agreement to keep the roadway closed.

Bovo and County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz sponsored legislations to open up both bridges to help improve traffic flow in the burgeoning developments in Hialeah and Hialeah Gardens, and the proposed Mega Mall, which is to be built outside of Miami Lakes.

Miami Lakes lawmakers, however, indicated the part of FDOT’s study was conducted during a holiday and while schools were closed.

According to the contract, HW Locher will study the impacts of population growth and constructions of new developments and planned residential communities in Miami Lakes and the surrounding areas.

The study will also include the traffic impact for American Dream Mall without any proposed roadway improvements in the future to alleviate the traffic congestion.      

As part of the study, a separate analysis will also be conducted to determine if a connection to 1-75 at either N.W. 170 and 154 streets bridges would be beneficial to the surrounding traffic.

Once finished, the results of the study will be presented to the Town Council for further action.

Mayor Manny Cid, Town Manager Alex Rey and Town Attorney Raul Gastesi appeared before the County Commission on November 21 to oppose the original traffic study and expressed a concern over the funding for the Palmetto Expressway underpasses at N.W. 160 and 146 streets to minimize intracity traffic within Miami Lakes.

Commissioners accepted Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s report but didn’t make any motions for him to take further action.

The town attorney will continue the dispute resolution process with the overpass bridge at N.W. 154 Street, Cid said.

In other Town Council news:

In the first of two public hearings, the Town Council approved an amendment to the N.W. 87th Avenue Development, which helped settle a lawsuit brought by the original developer of the accord.

At a special meeting last month, council members approved the change after the Lowell Dunn family filed several lawsuits against the town claiming breach of the development agreement, which opened up N.W. 87 Avenue and allowed the developer to make a series of roadway improvements in exchange for preserving traffic concurrency for residential developments west of the roadway. 

The Dunn family sold a large parcel of the tract to the Lennar Corporation, which crafted a blue print to build more than 400 single family and town homes, but decided on the town’s mobility fee instead of making the roadway enhancements.

The enhancements included construction of an additional southbound left-turn lane at N.W. 82nd Avenue and 154 Street; construction of an exclusive westbound right-turn lane at N.W. 82 and 154 Street; and building an exclusive northbound right-turn at N.W. 138 Street and N.W. 87 Avenue.  

But the Dunn family indicated the agreement with Lennar created a problem without an amendment to the development agreement and called it improper, according to Miami Lakes Town Attorney Raul Gastesi.

The land use attorneys for the Lennar Corporation and Miami Lakes disagreed with the Dunn family, which sued the town seeking damages, access to public records and attorney fees.

The attorneys for town’s insurance carrier defended the lawsuit and settled for $86,000, Gastesi said.

The amended development agreement suggests which roadway improvements that Miami Lakes doesn’t want that are not an obligation to the Dunn family.

The second and final public hearing is scheduled for the December 5 regular Town Council meeting.

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