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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – To the thrill of motorists and merchants the detour signs came down today on southbound Alton Road on Miami Beach.
The southbound lanes of that main corridor had been closed for a year while work was done to eliminate chronic flooding and improve the roadway.
On Thanksgiving eve, folks on The beach were giving thanks to see cars and trucks moving smoothly in both directions along the corridor.
“Finally we have a beautiful road,” said Beach resident Teresa Maldonado. “I love it, because there was a lot of traffic, too much confusion, and now we are happy.”
Not only are happy days here again, but eight months early. What accounts for the early reopening of the southbound lanes? The city leaned on the Florida Department of Transportation to get the job done.
“It’s all about getting it done, and that’s what we worked to do, just get it done,” said Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.
The FDOT got it done by offering a bribe of sorts to the contractor.
Bergeron Land Development was promised a $1 million bonus to have the improvements between 8th and 17th Avenues completed by December 31st.
FDOT spokesperson Heather Leslie said the department moved to hurry up what she called a major project, hugely important to the community.
“A $1 million bonus is what it took to be able to reopen the road,” she said.
While there remains some cleanup work to do, tweaking traffic lights, finishing sidewalks and curbing, the four lanes of the roadway are open and will remain open, with the exception of intermittent partial closures as needed.
At the Salon Andres spa, owner Andres Chavez was delighted. His business fronts the side of Alton that had been closed for the long year.
“I am very happy that it’s done,” Chavez said. “It’s beautiful, and I think it’s going to bring more clients in.”
A few doors down, at Pistils & Petals Floral, traffic-in the way of customers-was heavy.
“We are thrilled,” said manager Elisa Carnevale. “It’s been a very hard year for us, because our clients had a hard time reaching us.”
Next month, work will begin on the second and final part of the Alton Road improvement project, stretching from Washington Avenue to Dade Boulevard. While that portion will involve occasional lane closures, traffic will flow in both directions throughout completion, which is expected by July of next year.
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