MIAMI – Miami-Dade County commissioners voted Wednesday to give preliminary approval to extend the Dolphin Expressway into Kendall.
The vote was 9-2 in favor of the extension, with only commissioners Daniella Levine Cava and Xavier Suarez voting against it.
A final vote of approval is not expected to be held until later this year.
Commissioners spent much of Wednesday hearing from residents before they voted.
The new Kendall Parkway would stretch 14 miles, connecting from the Dolphin Expressway to the north and extending south to Southwest 136th Street.
Miami-Dade Expressway Authority officials said the new highway would help alleviate congestion on Florida's Turnpike and the Palmetto Expressway while reducing the commute for Kendall residents.
However, some residents are opposed to having a highway near their homes, while environmentalists are concerned about building outside the urban development boundary and the impact it will have on the Everglades.
"The proposed parkway does not change the UDB or expand development to the west. It does not move the line," Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said.
A snazzy video produced by the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority showed how the highway, complete with a rapid-bus line, express lanes and AC-covered bus stops, would look like if the project lives on.
"It will encourage the builders again to rebuild their efforts to redouble their efforts to build and fill in that gap. 'We need a gas station. We need a convenient store. We need whatever that might be,'" Ruth Trencher, who opposes the project, said.
Residents who complained about drive times were countered by folks who said an expansion of the Dolphin Expressway will only exasperate the problem and that it doesn't address a lack of public transportation county-wide.
The proposal will now have to go to Tallahassee for state approval.
Miami-Dade Expressway Authority officials said tolls on the highway would pay for the $600 million project.