MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Miami Beach residents learned at a meeting Wednesday the gigantic Alton Road reconstruction project might make the road better for pedestrians than originally anticipated.
For more than two months, parts of Alton Road have been torn up since construction began in the spring.
Business owners faced with construction cones in front of their stores and restaurants said they have been losing customers.
At Gulf Liquors, general manager Wilson Arevalo said he is thankful for the store's longevity and name recognition.
"A lot of construction and people cannot park," said Arevalo, "and when there's no parking, there's no business."
Beginning Sunday night, the Alton Road flyover will be closed for a month, which is expected to snarl traffic even more.
"A big mess," said Central Cab driver Saul Lucien.
Neighborhood associations and grassroots groups like the Alton Road Reconstruction Coalition have argued that the two-year-long state project -- expected to mitigate flooding problems in the beach -- is flawed in design, which makes the pain of construction tougher to take.
According to the group's website, the plan is bad for cyclists and pedestrians.
At Wednesday's 6 p.m. meeting at the Miami Beach Golf Course, representatives with the Florida Department of Transportation met with members of several neighborhood groups to share news that alternative, more pedestrian-friendly designs will be considered.
"The community was pretty much up in arms about the existing design that FDOT had," said State Representative David Richardson.
Richardson said he, along with State Senator Gwen Margolis, helped push for a plan that would include wider sidewalks and a center, landscaped median. The plan does not include a bike lane.
Richardson said the alternative design should fit within the state's budget for the project. It was not immediately known if it would push back the timeline.
A spokesperson for FDOT's Alton Road project said the Miami Beach City Commission has to approve the alternate design before it is considered by FDOT.
"We would love it if people would walk more and use bicycles more and less cars to try to reduce traffic," he said.
Arevalo said he is hopeful the outcome is worth the mess of construction.
"I hope it is. I mean I hope it is, but definitely right now, it's hurting a lot of business," Arevalo said.
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