Miami Beach Flooding Project Could Cause Traffic Nightmare

Alton Road project, Collins Avenue project could overlap

By Gilma Avalos
|  Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013  |  Updated 7:58 AM EDT
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The Florida Department of Transportation hopes a $35 million project will bring a fix to the flooding and also bring major repair work to one of Miami Beach's main arteries, Alton Road. But another project will be happening simultaneously, on another main artery: Collins Avenue. Mayank Chadha, Octave May, Henry Stolar ad Ali comment.

The Florida Department of Transportation hopes a $35 million project will bring a fix to the flooding and also bring major repair work to one of Miami Beach's main arteries, Alton Road. But another project will be happening simultaneously, on another main artery: Collins Avenue. Mayank Chadha, Octave May, Henry Stolar ad Ali comment.

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Those who live and play in Miami Beach know it all too well, when it rains on Alton Road it floods.

"It's pretty bad, I mean it will creep up a whole half block over there," says Mayank Chadha who lives near Alton Road. He commutes to Fort Lauderdale for work and often texts pictures of the flooding near his home to his boss, as proof that he'll need to come in a little later.

At Whole Foods, Octave May, a customer service manager, has to pack extra patience on days where flooding is a problem.

"A lot of people complain about it always being filled up and they can't get in the parking lot," May said.

May said he sometimes takes a cab from one block to the next to get to work if flooding won't allow him to cross the street.

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Miami-Dade Flooding

It was a wet morning in South Florida as flash flood warnings were in effect for parts of both Miami-Dade and Broward early Monday, according to the National Weather Service. In Miami-Dade the warning was extended until 8:30 p.m. and included the areas of Westchester, Coconut Grove, Miami Beach, Miami and Coral Gables.
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The Florida Department of Transportation hopes a $35 million project will bring a fix to the flooding and also bring major repair work to one of Miami Beach's main arteries, Alton Road.

The project, which has gotten the greenlight to start in April, will extend from 5th Street to Michigan Avenue. Roads, driveways and sidewalks will be rebuilt and street and traffic lights improved in addition to other changes.

"Anything that expedites traffic, and is good safe traffic engineering, is something I think everyone wants," said Henry Stolar, a member of the Miami Beach Planning Board.

So what's the problem? Another project will be happening simultaneously, on another main artery: Collins Avenue. The project was presented in front of the Planning Board at a Tuesday meeting. This project, though smaller, starts in May but is expected to span some 13 months, which will cause an overlap with the Alton Road Project which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2015. To locals it means a traffic nightmare.

"It's already horrendous, I'm not looking forward to that," said Chadha. His building association has already started warning residents about the dual projects.

Others worry about the bigger picture: the timing of it all. Tourism has been good to Miami Beach lately. Hotels can demand higher rates and they have higher occupancy. Yearly events in the city bring national crowds. 

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"We're going to go through at least a couple of Basel, boat show types of events, as well as the normal tourism we welcome," said Stolar.

Rerouting traffic during both projects could impact hotels and restaurants, the lifebloods of South Beach. Small mom and pops are concerned too.

"That's a big problem for the business," said Ali, an employee at Alton Food Plaza. He says customers frequent the convenience store because of the parking lot. Road closures might drive them away and drive them elsewhere.

The Collins Avenue project is aimed at improving pedestrian safety and alleviating drainage problems among other improvements. It's a project few would argue is not needed. Some call the inconvenience of scheduling both at the same time, the price of progress.

"It's a good thing and needs to get done," said May.

For others, the inconvenience is too costly.

"It perplexes me that they would want to do both at the same time," said Chadha.

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