Long-awaited improvement project begins on Old Cutler

By Gary Alan Ruse….

Pictured (l-r) are Public Works director Rafael Casals, Cutler Bay Council members Sue Ellen Loyzelle and Peggy Bell, Mayor Ed MacDougall, Councilmember Ernie Sochin, Ramon Castella of C3TS Engineering Firm, and Ken Gardner of Rosenberg Gardner Design Landscape Architects.

The long-awaited improvement project for Old Cutler Road that has been in the planning stages since a design charrette in the summer of 2002 finally began with a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

One and a half miles of Old Cutler Road from SW 97th Avenue to SW 87th Avenue will get a massive makeover with two traffic calming circles, decorative street lighting and traffic signals, a new storm-water drainage system, native pineland landscaping, decorative treatments at key intersections and new pedestrian sidewalks.

Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall said he was truly energized by the scope of the project and what it would mean for the town.

“For the community this is the end of a 10- year wait,” MacDougall said. “We had gath-ered in 2002 as a community and went over the project, put design plans in place, never really believing it would happen within 20 years. Here it is less than 10 years and we’re getting under way.

“I’m really excited for the community as a whole because this is really a lifeline into our town. It will make it easier for people to come down here and shop at our stores. It will invite new businesses and restaurants. What we envision is a place where you can have a Coke in a Grove-style atmosphere with trees and sidewalk cafes,” the mayor added.

The existing roadway will be reconstructed and new decorative bus shelters and benches as well as a shared bike and pedestrian path will be added. The joint project of Miami- Dade County and the Town of Cutler Bay is expected to take about 18 months to complete at a shared cost of roughly $7.5 million with much of the funding coming from the People’s Transportation Plan (PTP).

Other members of the town council, town manager Steve Alexander, Public Works officials and executives of the primary contractor, Acosta Tractors, attended the groundbreaking event.

Public Works director Rafael Casals said he was proud of all the work that had been done thus far and was looking forward to the end results.

“We’re glad this project is underway,” Casals said. “It’s something that has been a long time coming from the charrette and we worked in great partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Works Department. It’s a rare opportunity since we have a roadway that’s going to have a complete facelift.

“We have incorporated all of the elements that were in the charrette, including brick pavers, concrete sidewalks, esthetic features that bring back the historic look of Old Cutler Road with special bus shelters and coral rock features,” Casals added. “More importantly, we’re excited about the amount of landscaping we’re going to be putting in, in partnership with Fairchild Tropical Garden as well. It’s going to be a really good green element to the project.”

Casals said that residents don’t have to worry about the work closing down Old Cutler Road, and that everyone will be made aware of the construction.

“We will be doing the project in phases, so we won’t be impeding the entire corridor from 87th to 97th,” Casals said. “We’ll have several outreach meetings. Our construction management team is going to be going door to door talking to residents. It’s going to be our signature project for the town.”


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