MIAMI (CBSMiami) — It has been a long time coming and it has miles to go, but the Kendall Parkway is a step closer to a construction start date.
Miami-Dade County Commissioners voted 9-4 on Thursday to go ahead with the project, though not everyone is happy with that result.
“We want the commissioners to require more stringent protections around the road and they did not do it,” said Michael Rosenberg.
Dozens of people spoke their minds in front of the commission, either in support of or against a proposed State Road 836 extension, also known as the Kendall Parkway.
The new toll road, proposed by MDX, would be an extension of the 836 expressway which would be built east of Krome (SW 177th Avenue) and east of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), as close to the Urban Development Boundary (UDB) as possible, then curve south, extending to Southwest 136th Street.
The Mayor of Miami-Dade County is happy, as one of his major transportation projects is going forward.
He does realize however that it’s not a completely done deal as environmentalists will still have a chance to stop it.
“This is just a step in the process allowing us to move forward,” said Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
MDX wants the extension to alleviate heavy traffic conditions for commuters who live in Kendall and parts of Southwest Miami-Dade.
The idea is to take some of that traffic away from the Turnpike, giving drivers faster options.
Environmental groups oppose the project, saying it endangers efforts by the federal government to protect a buffer between development and the Everglades.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from West Miami, has also raised similar concerns and posted this tweet on Wednesday.
Will ask fed govt to oppose #KendallExpressway unless it:
1. Demonstrates consistency & avoids conflict with #EvergladesRestoration; &
2. Requires @MDXway to buy land east of Krome & make them available for #Everglades project in exchange for state & fed land no longer needed
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) September 26, 2018
MDX and county officials say it has been doing environmental studies for four years and must comply with all regulations and are planning other protections as well.
West Kendall residents largely support the project, saying it will provide relief from traffic-clogged streets.
The Kendall Parkway will be the first new expressway in South Florida that will provide special lanes for express bus service with climate-controlled stations and a 30-foot-wide, 14-mile long nature path for walking, jogging, cycling, horseback riding, and non-motorized passive recreational uses.
Construction would start next year and likely take between 3 and 5 years to complete.