Kendall Parkway is hotly debated over her image makeover

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Written by Gabriela Henriquez Stoikow on February 1, 2022

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Kendall Parkway is hotly debated over her image makeover

It’s back to the drawing board for the controversial 14-mile Kendall Parkway, as planners pledge over the next six months to reshape both its contested route and its complicated public image.

The design and development team aims to reconcile residents’ environmental concerns about the multimodal transportation project through rebranding and greater community outreach to involve more people in planning.

The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) says it will plan the design of the corridor in the far west and southwest of the county, in accordance with guidelines negotiated by the authority with Miami-Dade County.

The Kendall Parkway is to be a new north-south multi-modal corridor west of 167th Avenue SW from the current terminus of State Route 836 at 12th Street Northwest to 136th Street SW. The project promises a “significant improvement” in travel times because the region’s only freeway access is via the tollway, MDX officials say.

Environmental activists have long issued warnings about the impact on the Everglades and nearby wetlands, and advocates such as the Tropical Audubon Society have said the boardwalk could encroach on wetlands and other ecologically sensitive lands. such as the Bird Drive Basin.

“The next phase of planning the boardwalk is the most important part of the job, that’s where we’re going to come up with that vision that you can sell, even the branding of the facility,” Luis Ajamil, president and chief executive of Bermello Ajamil & Partners, an engineering consultant to MDX, told the authority’s board last week. “It’s more than just a road, it’s really a community asset, an environmental asset.”

The challenge ahead, Ajamil said, is how to turn this mobility plan into something that aims to improve the region’s quality of life while protecting the Everglades, improving neighborhoods and encouraging the right kind of development that the county wants in this area.

“We need to make sure people understand the value the project brings in bringing together these diverse people, citizens who care about the community, environmentalists who care about the environment, people who care about open spaces,” Mr. Ajamil said.

He explained the three foundations of the project.

Firstly, “it’s not just a road, it’s a community project”, he said, noting that the road can allow in this area access to open spaces, parks if possible, trails, bike paths, sports and even tourism.

“We can create something so unique there that people will want to come and see it,” he said.

Second, “it will be a transportation corridor with hubs where people can drive their cars, drop them off, and then a perfect shot if they want to go to downtown Miami or downtown Miami,” Mr. Ajamil noted.

Third, he said, “it can be designed to preserve the environment, to improve the environment, and to engage the public in this experience with the environment.”

In October, Juan Toledo, deputy executive director and chief engineering officer of MDX, told Miami Today that MDX had already purchased 285 acres needed for the boardwalk and determined that it should purchase approximately 2,000 acres.

Once completed, 600,000 area residents and businesses could benefit from the corridor.

Nonetheless, a timeline for completion is still uncertain as MDX still cannot issue bonds to fund its projects pending litigation over its existence that began in 2019 against the state and the Greater Miami Expressway Agency (GMX) created by the state.

A six-lane corridor — three in each direction — would begin at Northwest 137th Avenue and 12th Street and end at Kendall Drive. A two-mile section along Eighth Street Southwest would be raised to minimize the impact on this environmentally sensitive area. Finally, a four-lane section would run from Kendall Drive at the end of the project to southwest 136th Street.

The parkway includes an express bus lane, a pedestrian and bicycle multi-purpose recreational trail and a horse trail as part of an application to MDX by the county Department of Environmental Resources. Once funds become available, a project of this magnitude could take around four years to build, Mr. Toledo said.

“As part of our commitment to the project, we will actually be purchasing the required right-of-way of 1,000 [feet and] restore the wetlands to a more pristine state and then return them to the county in perpetuity, so it will be an area of ​​perpetual preservation,” Mr. Toledo told Miami Today previously.

Responding to environmental concerns, Toledo said the alignment is east of Krome Avenue and not in the Everglades and would have no environmental impact. Additionally, to concerns about the project’s potential damage to the Bird Drive Basin, Mr. Toledo responded that the South Florida Water Management District has a comprehensive Everglades restoration project in that area, but eventually abandoned it in 2008 due to porous soil in the area.

A presentation by MDX says the project would create more than 10,800 jobs through 30 construction and professional services contracts, and 30% of those would go to local small businesses.

“You’re looking at over $300 million that will go to local small businesses in Miami-Dade County,” Mr. Toledo said.

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