Eight years after it was approved by the Miami-Dade County Commission and five months after a ceremonial groundbreaking in April, a pedestrian overpass over highway U.S. 1 recently began on-site construction. Eight University of Miami students have died while crossing the six-lane highway since 1989.
Completion is scheduled for May, according to Miami-Dade County Public Information Officer Karla Damian. The delay between the groundbreaking in April and the recent start of on-site mobilization was because of traffic plans needing approval, according to Monica Cejas, senior professional engineer at Miami-Dade Transit. Miami-Dade Transit, the City of Coral Gables and the Florida Department of Transportation have all been involved in the project.
The company contracted for the work, ABC Construction, is now digging underground at the site to relocate utilities, including drainage pipes and electrical wiring. The underground work should last “a couple of weeks,” Damian said.
“Once they do that, the next step will be the timing of the traffic light and changing traffic,” Damian said. “We will have better knowledge of any traffic shutdowns as we get closer to that stage … Currently we do not know where traffic will be rerouted.”
The towers that will take pedestrians up to the overpass by stair and elevator will be built, and the overpass connecting the two towers is expected to be placed on top after being built off-site. However, the prefabricated connector has not yet been built and designs for it are still being completed, according to Damian.
While UM has no power over the project’s construction, it is a project the school has endorsed for years and its administration has closely followed.
“This project is important for the university community and the community at large,” UM Spokeswoman Margot Winick said. “While we await the completion of the pedestrian bridge, we ask that the university community please be safe in your daily travels and only cross U.S. 1 at the signalized crosswalk at Mariposa Court. Your safety is the number one priority.”