Downtown Miami traffic to be alleviated by new multi-million project

Commissioner wants to take Biscayne Boulevard underground, while raising I-395

By Layron Livingston - Reporter

MIAMI - A Miami-Dade County commissioner said he wants to bury Biscayne Boulevard to ease traffic in downtown Miami.

Originally, the plan involved taking a stretch of Interstate 395 underground, along with Biscayne Boulevard.

Now, the plan has changed a bit, with I-395 getting a facelift and leaving an area below to become a pedestrian-friendly green space and park space for several downtown blocks.

"Something very similar to Millennium Park in Chicago, big Central Park, common-type area for Miami's downtown," Commissioner Xavier Suarez said.

Suarez has been working on the multi-million dollar development for years and the project is now taking some of its first steps.

Suarez presented the project Friday, updating the public and the Downtown Development Authority board.

"Five, 10 blocks so that traffic can move much better leaving downtown, and also we have (better) connectivity between the west side of the boulevard -- Park West, Overtown, downtown, into what is now called Museum Park," Suarez said.

"In addition to congestion and transportation is closely linked with community, quality of life, complete streets. We don't just drive and go to work," Miami-Dade Metro Planning Organization executive director Eileen Bouchle said. "We live here, play here. We ride our bicycles. We walk."

Bouchle said the DDA and the city are already studying the traffic issues in the area. That study may soon consider how a "big dig" proposal could impact things too.

"There were a lot of great questions this morning that I think that are going to continue to try to refine what is the effort and if, in fact, the study will be extended to look at this concept," Bouchle said.

Suarez would like to see the tunnel extend all the way to 18th Street. He estimates the state would have to allocate anywhere from $100 to $250 million.

He said the state's already adopted a plan to raise and update I-395.

Before the digging can start, the traffic study will have to come back and a final plan will need to be approved.

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