MIAMI – A 33-acre public space project will use the shade of Interstate 395 in downtown Miami to create a connective outdoor space.
The project, known as The Underdeck, stretches from Miami’s historic Overtown neighborhood to Biscayne Bay near the Pérez Art Museum Miami.
The planners want it to include a trail, a pedestrian bridge, water fountains, plazas, dog parks, and other recreational spaces.
“It might represent peace, it might represent a reflection on our past with what is being promoted as a heritage trail, but more importantly, it represents our future — one that is overflowing with diversity,” said Dr. Nelson Adams, a physician who serves as the chair of the Underdeck Stakeholder Engagement Committee.
Miami Commissioner Christine King, who represents District 5, said the project is part of a partnership between the Florida Department of Transportation and the city of Miami.
“FDOT is funding the project and I’m sure we will get assistance from other sources,” King said.
The Underdeck is a component that stemmed from the I-395 Signature Bridge Design-Build project. The bridge is part of an $840 million project to connect I-395, State Road 836, and Interstate 95 that officials expect will be completed in 2026.
“Underneath the bridge is not a good place, there has been crime, there has been homelessness,” Adams said adding, “This seemingly represented a great opportunity to move from bad to good and to the best opportunity for a green space for our community.”
The construction of the original I-395 and I-95 disconnected the segregated Overtown community of African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans, Adams said.
King and Adams are hoping this time, with The Underdeck, it will be the opposite.
“It decimated Overtown,” King said. “The Underdeck will be one of those projects that will bring life back to this community.”
As plans for the Signature Bridge solidified in 2019, the Town Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization that has advocated for the area since 2011, formed the Underdeck Advisory Board, to begin advocacy efforts for the public space.
The members of the board include landowners, small business owners, and residents. The naming survey closed on Aug. 5. Their next public meeting is on Zoom at 6:30 p.m., on Aug. 25.
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The in-person meeting will be in September.