Interchange project complete but potential problem signaled

Green arrow absent for southbound turn at Shula-Killian intersection (taken Oct. 18).

For more than a year, increased fender-benders at an under-construction MDX Shula Expressway (SR 874) interchange at Killian Drive (SW 104th Street) generated criticism from Kendall motorists.

Now completed, the new MDX (Miami- Dade Expressway Authority) interchange routing plan seems to be working well. So agrees one of its severest critics, travel agent Doug Kostowski who still worries that a severe accident could see a vehicle crash through his first-floor office windows at 10707 SW 104 St. that overlook the interchange just 100 feet away and just east of Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus.

When the two-year project to improve traffic flows recently came to a close, even Kostowski gave it his blessing — except for a green arrow on an overhead traffic signal he claimed appeared either “not working or missing.”

Set for a timing delay for left-turning traffic, the arrow lights only briefly for those motorists wanting to make a left turn to access the southbound Shula ramp in front of eastbound vehicles.

The super-imposed arrow only lights when activated by a vehicle in the leftturning lane. When no vehicle is within the lane, the light simply changes to what traffic engineers call a “green ball” allowing Killian Drive traffic to flows in both east and west directions. That’s when an occasional battle can ensue as Shulabound vehicles trying to turn left and eastbound Killian motorists simultaneously seek the right of way.

Believing not only traffic delays, but potential accidents were possible among feuding “me-first motorists,” Kostowski and MDX officials began five weeks of email communications, winding up with the explanation from Alfred Lurigados, deputy director of engineering for MDX:

“Traffic engineering has timed the signal to maximize ‘eastbound through’ since traffic is lighter in the west to south movements. The green arrow must be activated by a vehicle in that [turning] lane. Remember, this signal will react to no cars in the left turn lane and then give eastbound a green.”

Driving that intersection from his home off Killian Greens Golf Course, east of the interchange, Kostowski had claimed he had “never seen the arrow lighted” until Oct. 14 when he reported, “I did see the green arrow for the first time. It’s kind of like bird watching. You have to be at right place at right time.

Miami-Dade traffic engineers call the signal “permissive protected” and believe it correctly favors the major east-west traffic flows along Killian Drive.

Miami-Dade Traffic Signal manager Hiram Hernandez emphasizes, “[The] signal is not malfunctioning; it was designed that way.”

After contractual performance delays extending formal project completion well past its November 2011 estimated finish, MDX’s Mario Diaz reported on Oct. 18, “We are in the process of getting the project signed off.

Total cost of the project was $70 million.”

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