Miami-Dade County District 8 Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava hosted a community meeting the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 30, in the meeting room of the Palmetto Golf Course, 9300 SW 152 St.
Commissioner Levine Cava had requested the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) present updates about a proposed county plan to build a bridge across the canal at SW 87th Avenue north of 164th Street. She also had said that she was seeking input from residents about the matter.
Study data was presented by traffic engineers regarding the bridge plan as well as a new signal management system and traffic on Old Cutler Road. The bridge plan, which is recommended by the DTPW, would have to be approved by the Transportation Planning Organization and Commissioner Levine Cava serves as one vote on the TPO.
A literally standing room only crowd attended the meeting, seemingly galvanized by the prospect of a bridge in that area and its impact on traffic through the neighborhood. The majority of those speaking were against the bridge and emotions were strong.
“It was a very contentious and passionate meeting,” Commissioner Levine Cava said later. “I’m not sure what will be my recommendation. I’m still studying it. It won’t go forward for now, and I said I would try to resolve it by the end of the year.” Gary Pastorella of Concerned Citizens of Old Cutler said he had originally been okay with the idea of the bridge, but that he had changed his mind after hearing the statements of residents in the area.
“I think a bridge at this point wouldn’t do enough good to jeopardize the quality of life on the north side of the canal,” Pastorella said. “I think that traffic circles, as long as you can keep traffic flowing, will ease a lot of the problems in Palmetto Bay. I think the size of the meeting caught the commissioner by surprise. I think they were overwhelmed by the number of people that turned out. The Southwood Middle School auditorium might have been a better location.”
Pastorella said that besides his own emails sent out to alert residents about the meeting, another group distributed flyers about the meeting to residents on the north side of the canal and that it was those residents who were strongly against the bridge.
Not all of those attending to speak their minds were against the bridge proposal, even though they were outnumbered. Lori Marie Lopez, a Palmetto Bay resident was one of several who were in favor of the bridge.
“Unfortunately, the bridge is needed desperately,” Lopez said. “The traffic is out of control on Old Cutler. What should take 10 minutes takes 35-40 minutes instead. It’s absurd. I understand both sides of the coin; I really do.”
For information or to share your opinion, contact the office of Commissioner Levine Cava by calling 305-378-6677 or by sending email to District8@miamidade.gov.