Next week, Miami New Times is publishing a guide to the eight of the worst public works projects in Miami-Dade, where bureaucrats and elected officials take pride in wasting millions in taxpayer dollars on crap residents have little-to-no use for. As we reveal each one of these boondoggles on Riptide, we're asking readers to send us their suggestions of the most asinine things local government has built in your neighborhoods. We'll pick the best one and send the winner a seven-day pass to try out the wonderfully terrible public bus and rail system provided by Miami-Dade Transit. Leave your suggestions in the comments or email them to Banana Republican. Enjoy!
Today, we go over the 94-foot-tall, mile-long bridge that leaves you stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in expensive toll lanes.
The Golden Glades Flyover
Year built: 1995
Cost: $50 million
What's dumb about it: You end up paying five bucks in tolls for the privilege of being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic with a view of the Miami and Fort Lauderdale skylines.
Why it got built: To make car poolers think they were getting relief from gridlock.
Throughout the 1980s, local and state transportation experts fiddled with plans to rebuild the interchange, which creates a traffic bottleneck from the bowels of Mordoor as thousands of drivers attempt to merge onto the Florida Turnpike, Palmetto Expressway, and I-95. But perhaps because of the $534 million price tag, the proposal to replace the winding loops with a five-level interchange has been collecting dust for more than three decades. Instead, the Florida Department of Transportation paid $23,000 per yard - yes, per yard - to build a temporary band-aid: a 94-foot-high, mile-long two-lane bridge on I-95 for car-poolers.
When the flyover finally opened after two years of construction, south Florida car-poolers rejoiced. They zoomed across the bridge, laughing at the poor suckers driving alone in rush hour traffic. Yet a transportation spokesman named David Fierro told reporters the project in the near future was "not going to be able to handle all the traffic."
Then in 2008 state transportation department came up with the bright idea of spending another $122 million to re-stripe the high occupancy lanes into exclusive toll lanes, supposedly to further limit the number of drivers. Yet motorists often find themselves going slower than their counterparts in the non-toll lanes.
Last year, commuters complained to the Miami Herald that they were paying $4.50 and higher for the privilege of being immobile on the flyover. One driver described the experience as "infuriating" and "grossly unfair." The I-95 express lanes are now carrying 50,000 to 60,000 cars a day, according to figures released by FDOT last year. FDOT officials acknowledge travel will slow if too many cars are crammed into the express lanes.
Guide to Trashing Taxpayers: