Town may take legal action to prevent 154 St. bridge opening

Wednesday, January 30, 2019 0 Comments

Miami Lakes has threatened to take legal action against Miami-Dade after town officials learned the county was proceeding with plans to place two I-75 interchanges at N.W. 170 and 154 streets to alleviate traffic congestion in nearby burgeoning areas without their knowledge and input.
At issue is a legal binding agreement between Miami Lakes and Hialeah to keep the N.W. 154 Street overpass bridge closed when the latter city annexed a large section of land west of the town in 2003.
Miami Lakes reached out to the county over residents’ concerns of more traffic gridlock if 154 Street is opened up, and conducted its own traffic study which determined the impact would be detrimental without major traffic improvements to N.W. 87 Avenue, N.W. 82 Avenue and the Palmetto Expressway.
Town Attorney Raul Gasetsi said Miami Lakes was seeking a dialogue with county officials about the proposed projects and told they would place the issue on the agenda during a county commission meeting to debate.
However, the county bypassed the issue and contacted FDOT indicating Miami-Dade is ready to proceed with the interchange projects, Gastesi said.
“We were told they would put them on a county agenda before taking any action,” Gastesi said during the January 15 regular Town Council meeting. “They have sent letters to FDOT to proceed with the bridges instead.”
Council members instructed Gastesi to meet with county officials and file a lawsuit if the county ignores the legal binding agreement and proceeds with the construction plans.
Miami Lakes discovered the county’s plans at a Palm Springs North Civic Association meeting.
Councilmember Luis Collazo said a member of the PSN organization circulated a document about the projects, a hot button issue for the northwest Miami-Dade community as well.
“He said ‘are we aware of this’,” Collazo said. “I circulated the document to confirm it.”
Mayor Manny Cid said the county proceeding without the town’s input is a sign of disrespect.
“They did things behind our backs and not with the good faith that we showed,” he said. “They didn’t respect us, especially with the agreement.”
Cid said it’s time for Miami Lakes to take a stance. “It looks like were are going to have to fight back now,” he said.
Vice Mayor Nelson Rodriguez requested the town beef up its legal defense fund to fight the county. “We want them to know we are serious about defending the bridge at 154 Street,” he said.
County Commissioner Esteban Bovo Jr. sponsored legislation to open up N.W. 170 Street two years ago, and FDOT conducted a traffic study to determine the impact it would cause on Miami Lakes and Palm Springs North.
Bovo said opening up 170 Street would alleviate congestion for residents living in Hialeah.
Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz sponsored legislation to place a bridge at 154 Street in his district last year.
Miami Lakes disagreed with the traffic study for the two bridges and hired traffic engineers to do an analysis which town officials indicated the county missed some important points.
Major roadway improvements and repairs to the town’s busiest roads and expressways might mitigate traffic but uncertainty remains with American Dream Mall, which may generate an additional thousands of vehicles on roads, the town’s study suggested.
The county was contacted about the issue. “Miami-Dade County does not comment on threatened or pending litigation,”said Karla Damian, media and public relations officer for Miami-Dade.
Collazo said placing the interchanges at 170 sand 154 streets would have a “negative” impact on the town.
“None of them are positive,” he said. “That’s our starting point.
Collazo said Miami Lakes and Palm Springs North may want to join forces to fight the county over the bridges.
“We may want to stand with our friends to the north,” he said. “Maybe we should be present at the next PSN meeting.”

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