If you live in Miami Beach, the past year has been a steady descent into driving madness. First, it was impossible to travel south on Alton Road. Then random cross streets were also closed. Lanes began to magically merge and disappear like an M.C. Escher drawing. Buying organic kale at Whole Foods suddenly because an odyssey worthy of an epic poem. Some local businesses simply gave up.
But that nightmare is now over. After a year of construction, FDOT contractors have completed most of their work ahead of schedule.
That means you can now drive north and south on Alton Road -- just in time for Art Basel.
It was around this same time last year that locals learned their morning commute was going to become an ever-changing maze. As construction crews installed underground pumps to alleviate flooding, Alton Road shifted constantly: left, right, up, down.
Arriving home in time for dinner became like a video game -- an annoyingly hard video game.
Yesterday, however, Mayor Philip Levine announced that most of the construction would be completed today.
"In anticipation of the Thanksgiving Holiday and Art Basel Miami Beach, by the end of tomorrow, Wednesday, November 26th, motorists will be able to drive southbound and northbound on Alton Road between 8th Street and 17th Street," Levine said in a press release.
Levine also boasted that the construction was completed eight months ahead of schedule. In exchange for completing the work before year's end, FDOT contractor Bergeron Land Development will receive a $1 million bonus.
The project cost around $32 million. Two underground pumps were installed at Tenth and 14th streets and already appear to have alleviated flooding.
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Not all Alton Road construction is complete, however. Sidewalk and landscaping work could cause some lane closures. Alton between Dade Boulevard and Michigan Avenue will be narrowed to two lanes on December 8. And some construction remains to be done between Fifth and Eighth streets.
But the days of deranged detours along West Ave. are now gone.