Winning bid for I-395 bridge design has leaders questioning process

FDOT selects bridge design based on half-point difference between bidders

MIAMI – Local and state leaders have been arguing for years about replacing Interstate 395, a stretch of highway between Interstate 95 and the MacArthur Causeway.

At issue is what kind of bridge to build -- a conventional one or a "signature bridge." Local leaders demanded the latter, and now state engineers have made their choice. But the debate is far from over.

Linda Figg is an award-winning bridge designer. Her design for the I-395 bridge was favored by an aesthetics advisory committee, but a panel of state engineers favored a design from Flour-Astaldi-MCM, which won by a half point.

The process by which the Archer Western and de Moya Group design was selected bothers many residents.

"This process, with all due respect, is ridiculous," Alan Fein said.

Florida Department of Transportation engineers listened to public comments but didn't speak. They just picked the winner of the $800 million contract solely on points -- 88.3 for the Archer Western-de Moya joint-venture and 88.8 for Flour-Astaldi-MCM, a difference of half a point.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez wants the FDOT to bring both bridge designs before the county and city of Miami commissions.

Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz agrees.

For now, Archer Western-de Moya, with its swooping arches, is the winner, but the selection process isn't over.

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