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City sues FDOT over I-395 bridge

MIAMI – City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Miami Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff filed a lawsuit Monday against the Florida Department of Transportation to force the state to build a "signature bridge" on Interstate 395.

The lawsuit alleges the state secured federal funds to build a 600-foot signature bridge near the Adrienne Arsht Center. When the funds were secured, FDOT announced it was considering a different design to replace the overpass that connects I-95 and the MacArthur Causeway.

The design is different than the one the city and neighborhood groups approved.

"The original FDOT plans that I and my colleagues supported were an important step to helping rebuilding and reconnect our Miami communities, and we are asking the court to simply order the FDOT to keep its promise to the people of Miami," Regalado said.

Sarnoff called it a classic bait-and-switch.

"The people of Miami were promised a signature bridge, along the lines of those found in other major cities including Boston and Tampa," said Sarnoff. "Miami taxpayers pour millions into state coffers and it's time that the politicians and bureaucrats in Tallahassee stop spending our tax dollars in other parts of the state and instead make good on their promises to build our signature bridge."

FDOT says a suspension bridge is too costly and has design and safety flaws. The arch bridge is estimated to cost $673 million to build. The state is looking at a design similar to the existing overpass that is $100 million cheaper.

"The feds are giving us the money for this bridge, but the state doesn't want to use all the federal money to build the bridge. They want to to bring it to other parts of Florida," said Sarnoff.

The city said an elevated bridge is needed in order for redevelopment in the area. The existing overpass was built decades ago and divides Overtown and Downtown Miami.

"This is all an integral part of how you make Miami's northern entry point the most visible beautiful place you can make it. This is your one chance to get it right," said Sarnoff.

FDOT says it has not made a final decision on a design or where it will get the funding for the project.

A FDOT presentation showed four recommended designs (below slideshow).

PHOTOS: I-395 bridge renderings

READ: FDOT presentation |

The lawsuit does not ask for monetary damages but instead demands that FDOT honor its obligations and enjoins it from any action that would be contrary to its promises.

The state offered no comment on the lawsuit or the project.