The issue of a proposed bridge on SW 87th Avenue in Palmetto Bay, part of a county plan to ease traffic on Old Cutler Road and S. Dixie Highway, drew a crowd to the Village Council Chamber for the Jan. 8 meeting, when Miami-Dade County District 8 Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava would announce her decision on the bridge.
There also were residents of Cutler Bay attending the meeting because the traffic issue could impact them as well. The proposed project was a county plan because SW 87th Avenue is a county road under its jurisdiction.
The Palmetto Bay Council already had voted unanimously against the bridge project and remains in opposition. The Cutler Bay Council however voted unanimously to support the project to improve traffic for its residents during morning and evening rush hours.
Commissioner Levine Cava addressed the group and said she would oppose the bridge project.
“This decision has been extremely difficult,” Levine Cava said. “After full deliberation I determined that I cannot support construction of the bridge at this time. I am greatly concerned that the solution proposed will harm the quality of life for many, while providing only partial, temporary relief for those who currently suffer intolerable traffic congestion in their neighborhoods.”
Commissioner Levine Cava explained that she had conducted several public meetings and spoken with hundreds of residents as well as observing traffic in the congested areas firsthand and consulting with transportation experts. She said that after hours of weighing the pros and cons she came to the conclusion that diverting traffic through neighborhood streets was not the right way to go. Levine Cava said she will work for improvements to traffic on S. Dixie Highway and the transitway and better public transportation, including Metrorail.
Long time Palmetto Bay resident and community activist Gary Pastorella was pleased by the announcement.
“I think it was the right decision, given the small amount of good the bridge would have done to improve traffic problems, and the negative impact it would have on residents living north of the bridge,” Pastorella said, in an interview the following day. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens at the county’s TPO meeting on Jan. 25. I hope that Commissioner Levine Cava’s opposition to the bridge will be enough to convince the planners to drop the project.”
Commissioner Levine Cava said that she will convene a public traffic solutions planning charrette in February to explore the range of options that exist.