A newly proposed expansion to Florida’s Turnpike in Kendall would include express lanes from Bird Road (SW 40th Street) to Killian Parkway (SW 104th Street) over an approximate 6.5-mile distance with a newly configured and relocated interchange at SW 40th Street.
Motorists who regularly exit the turnpike to turn north on SW 117th Avenue may need to change driving habits when that option disappears if the new Bird Road interchange plan is adopted. The plan converts the turnpike frontage north of Bird Road to one-way traffic and modifies connections to SW 117th Avenue between 51st and 42nd streets.
A median closure is planned for southbound SW 117th Avenue at 45th Street, as well as closure of median access to a Comfort Inn. Other median accesses are planned along Bird Road between SW 119th Court and SW 117th Avenue.
The interchange itself will be moved south of the bridge that currently serves as a SunPass toll entry, according to new planning disclosed by turnpike officials at a public hearing on Dec. 10 at the Reception Palace Ballroom, 14375 SW 42 St.
Major institutions with busy traffic flows that may be effected by the changes include Kendall Regional Medical Center, one block west of the intersection, and both Florida International University and the National Hurricane Center, with entrances off SW 117th Avenue, onehalf mile north of the interchange.
A handful of citizens that included RollBackTolls co-chair Carlos Garcia along with West Kendall activist Jane Walker raised questions about traffic rerouting, as well as the turnpike’s continuing plans to install new express lanes from Homestead to the Dolphin Expressway (SR 836).
The second Kendall session in as many months was held to receive public comment before officials go forward with the project.and make a “go” or “no go” decision after receiving all public comment on or before Dec. 20.
Only one night after the Kendall hearing on Dec. 10, turnpike officials faced vigorous opposition to a proposed 11- mile expansion that would build new express lanes south of SW 137th Avenue to Campbell Drive, estimated at a $284 million cost. No figure was immediately available for the Bird-Killian. project.
On Dec. 11, at a second turnpike hearing involving express lanes, both Mayor Edward MacDougall of Cutler Bay and Mayor Jeff Porter of Homestead openly criticized such expansion as a method of increasing toll revenues rather than serving the public interest.
Porter told officials then he would ask the Homestead City Council to pass a resolution opposing the project.
Prior to the second hearing involving the turnpike in Kendall, protesting Devon Aire residents cheered withdrawal of a plan to build access and entry ramps at the SW 104th Street overpass, subject of a community protest during an “Outreach Meeting.”
Florida’s Turnpike officials at all hearings have maintained the express lanes will relieve predicted congestion that will continue to increase, causing more delays for motorists.
They predict that variable priced tolls will better manage traffic flows, citing improvements initiated along I-95 in eastern Miami-Dade as an example.
For information on Killian-Bird Road expansion, visit online at www.FloridaTurnpikeEnterprise.com