Turnpike cancels express lane ramps at 104th St. overpass

Proposed exit and entry ramps on Florida’s Turnpike at the SW 104th Street overpass have been dropped from planned turnpike expansion, according to a Nov. 14 announcement by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

On the same date, FDOT published notice of a new public hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 10, for the same section of proposed turnpike widening from SW 104th Street (Killian Parkway) north to Bird Road (SW 40th Street).

The notice said the meeting is scheduled to begin with an “Informal Open House” at 5:30 p.m. followed by a “Formal Presentation” at 6:30 p.m. in the Reception Palace Ballrooms, 14375 SW 42 St.

Creating entry and exit ramps on the north side of the S.W 104th Street bridge, which would have increased traffic lanes opposite the Devon Aire Park and K-8 Center, raised heated objections of more than 100 area residents at an “Outreach Meeting” on Oct. 3.

The proposal also included a stoplight installation at the top of the bridge to provide both entry and exit lanes for express lane motorists, requiring another traffic light between existing stoplights at SW 117th and SW 122nd avenues.

“I want to credit Rep. Frank Artiles who led the action to do away with a project that would create a serious safety hazard as well as adding to traffic congestion in the area,” said Carlos Garcia, a Devon Aire resident, when told of the news while picking up his three daughters at the K-8 school the afternoon of Nov. 15.

“I appreciate Secretary [Ananth] Prasad for listening to the concerns of my community,” said Rep. Artiles in the FDOT press release.

“I worked closely with the FDOT to ensure our community concerns were addressed,” added the legislator who also is a Devon Aire resident.

“While we’re all very happy the turnpike has withdrawn that part of the project, we don’t know what else may be planned or changed,” Garcia cautioned.

He noted that many protesting the overpass project during the Killian Palms Country Club meeting also complained that presenting details of turnpike changes between SW 88th and 104th streets “shouldn’t be held at a location so far west and north of the affected area.”

As RollBackTolls chair, Garcia maintains a website that regularly opposes FDOT and MDX expansion projects in Kendall, charging the organization adds unnecessary expense for expressway drivers throughout Miami-Dade.

Adding express lanes to planned expansion of Florida’s Turnpike in South Dade also became an issue in Cutler Bay where Mayor Edward MacDougall sought postponement of a turnpike expansion meeting due to inclusion of express lanes.

Originally scheduled for a public hearing on Nov. 21 in Cutler Bay, the session has been rescheduled for Dec. 21 in Homestead at the Hampton Inn, 2855 NE Ninth St. The subject will be the expansion plans between SW 288th and SW 216th Streets.

“Route expansion, the express lanes and the costs are all important issues for everyone in South Dade,” MacDougall said.

The postponement was the apparent result of a letter dated Oct. 31 written by Mayor MacDougall to Diane Gutierrez- Scaccetti, turnpike executive director.

Turnpike Enterprise secretary Prasad said in the Nov. 14 announcement that “FDOT recognizes the importance of listening and responding to the concerns of the local communities.” Information about turnpike projects is available on the FDOT website at www.dot.state.fl.us

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