Improvements on Old Cutler Bike Path

By Gary Alan Ruse

Pictured (l-r) are Cutler Bay Councilmembers Ernie Sochin and Peggy Bell, Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene P. Flinn Jr., Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Sorenson, Miami-Dade Public Works director Esther Calas, and Palmetto Bay Councilmembers Shelley Stanczyk and Howard Tendrich.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Katy Sorenson hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, July 16, for the 2010 Old Cutler Bike Path improvements that promise to provide a better and safer place to ride in Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay.

Conducted in the afternoon at the southeast corner of Old Cutler Road and SW 168th Street, the groundbreaking was preceded by a brief presentation at the nearby Deering Estate Visitor Center.

Commissioner Sorenson thanked “a lot of people,” including the officials and staff of the Village of Palmetto Bay and the Town of Cutler Bay as well as Miami-Dade Public Works director Esther Calas.

“This portion of the bike path is six miles long, but it’s going to connect to a bigger picture in Miami-Dade, and I think that anytime we can encourage biking, we’re talking about alternative transportation and recreation, and it’s something we should have and that our citizens deserve,” Sorenson said. “So it’s our bond money well spent to do projects that affect our citizens at a very basic level. It’s a good thing to support.”

The improvement project will rebuild some six miles of the popular bike path along historic Old Cutler Road from SW 67th Avenue to SW 216th Street. It will cost about $971,000 and comes from District 8 Neighborhood Improvement Funds.

Calas acknowledged the role of Sorenson.

“The champion for this project is Katy Sorenson,” Calas said. “She’s the one who brought this plan to fruition. It’s a wonderful project. The bike trail will be made safe for cyclists with signage and barriers.”

Palmetto Bay Mayor Eugene P. Flinn spoke next, also thanking Sorenson.

“This bike path is going to be a lasting legacy from what you’ve done.” Flinn said.

He then thanked the members of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan Advisory Committee, especially Eric Tullberg.

“This event is proof that the residents of our village deserve and appreciate amenities that not only consider beautification of an area, but also encourage ‘green’ types of activities. With the groundbreaking of these improvements, one of the main goals of the Village’s Comprehensive Plan – the transportation element – is being met.”

Eric Tullberg, a Palmetto Bay resident who has been an advocate for improving the bike path for years, came to the event on his bicycle, wearing his familiar bike helmet as he usually does to council meetings he attends.

“The Old Cutler Path is one of the premiere paths in Miami-Dade County,” Tullberg said. “It’s 13 miles. It starts at Cocoplum Circle in Coral Gables, goes through Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay and ends at 224th Street. This section is in pretty poor shape since it hasn’t been repaired since it was built in the early ’70s.

“So repairs and widening to the path and improving the intersections are really very important. This will help encourage people to walk and ride their bikes more. It will make the entire community much better if more people walk and ride their bikes.”

He said there also are quite a few runners who use the path. “You don’t have to drive to the gym to use the bicycle or drive to the park to walk around the path. Besides being important for fitness, those are extra eyes in the community. Those are the people that are going to see somebody trying to steal something from a house or something like that, and it actually makes the community safer. It’s like having extra police that you don’t have to pay for.”

Cutler Bay Vice Mayor Ed MacDougall was pleased with the cityspanning project and the impact it will have on area residents.

“I think it’s wonderful,” MacDougall said. “I have only good things to say about bringing Old Cutler back to pedestrian life and making sure that it’s safe for people to use and that it is interconnecting municipalities with the county. It’s all seemed to come together at exactly the right time as we work to bring our Old Cutler project together with what Palmetto Bay is doing. It’s going to take some time but it will turn Old Cutler into a masterpiece.”

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