After five years, the pedestrian overpass is almost ready to begin construction.
“It’s obviously not going to happen this year, but this is the closest we have ever been,” said Christina Farmer, Student Government President.
District 7 Commissioner Carlos Gimenez told a recent SG Executive Board meeting that most of the funding for the overpass had been identified. The overpass will stretch from the east side of Ponce De Leon Boulevard to the west side of US 1 at Mariposa Court.
“I hope to have this done and started by the time my second term ends in 2012,” Gimenez said at the meeting. “We’re committed to this project”
The overpass will cost around $5-7 million dollars, of which around $500,000 has not been covered.
A significant amount of the money will come from federal and state grants, with the remaining amount being split between Miami-Dade County, the City of Coral Gables, and the University of Miami.
The exact details of the funding will be determined in the next few weeks.
“This pedestrian overpass can be a reality,” said Maritza Gutierrez, a Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization Governance Board member, in a Miami Today epaper story. “Send the message to the City of Coral Gables. There is money to be matched.”
The initiative to build the overpass began in 2005 after UM student Ashley Kelly was killed when an SUV ran a red light and hit her while she was crossing Mariposa Court.
This intersection had a record of student pedestrian accidents dating back to 1990.
In response to the accident, Student Government passed the “Ashley Kelly Resolution” which called for a pedestrian overpass to be built at Mariposa Court.
“It needs to be done,” said Precious Nash, a junior who was injured while crossing Ponce De Leon Boulevard last March. “I was actually hit crossing the street because Miami drivers fail to see signs. We shouldn’t put students in danger because of dangerous drivers.”
More recently, another UM student, senior Marie Cushmore, was hit by an SUV crossing Mariposa Court.
“I totally support this item,” said county Commissioner Rebeca Sosa in Miami Today story. “We’re going to save lives here…when you’re talking safety, there is no money in the world to pay for that.”
However, not all students agree with the construction of the overpass.
“It’s a misallocation of resources,” said Rafael Jara, a junior. “It would be much cheaper to put up a stop sign.”
Others fully support it.
“I will go out of way to cross there,” Nash said. “There have been too many students hit by cars. It’s at least some solution to the problem.”
There is no guarantee that all students will actually use the overpass, but the idea is to provide a safer alternative.
“The overpass offers the opportunity to safely cross,” Farmer said. “Now some students wont take, don’t want to take it. We just want to provide an option.”
Further meetings are needed to finalize the funding, determine a construction schedule and begin the environmental review process. Construction is expected to start in the next two years and finish three years from now.
“We are going to make sure it’s still a priority,” Farmer said.
Alysha Khan may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.