As mediation about whether to open the Northwest 170th Street bridge between the Town of Miami Lakes and City of Hialeah continues this week, officials announced Wednesday that the span will soon be used by fire rescue to respond to emergencies on the west side of Interstate 75.
As first tweeted by The Miami Herald, the bridge will be used as a temporary fire lane.
"The town will never stand in the way of police and fire gaining access to help somebody," Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid said Wednesday.
There will be locked gates on either side of the bridge, according to emails sent between the county and town. Firefighters and paramedics will access boxes that hold keys to open the gates.
Emergency personnel would lock the gates behind them to prevent unauthorized traffic in the fire lane that is still under construction.
The fire lane would allow Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue to respond to emergencies in new development that may happen north of Northwest 170th Street.
The existing developments south of Northwest 170th Street are served by Hialeah Fire Station #7, Miami Lakes Town Manager Edward Pidermann said Wednesday.
The county’s three closest fire stations are at 16599 NW 67th Ave. and 15325 NW 77th Court in Miami Lakes and 7700 NW 186th St. in Palm Springs North, according to its website.
Whether to open the bridge that crosses lanes above the interstate to regular traffic has been disputed by the town, the county and Hialeah since 2019.
Hialeah wants people who have lived in new neighborhoods for several years in the northwest corner of the city to be able to access schools in Miami Lakes and the Palmetto Expressway.
The town doesn’t want the additional traffic and claims ownership of the southern lane of Northwest 170th Street.
Currently, residents in those gated Hialeah communities have just one way in and out, Northwest 97th Avenue.
The town’s lawsuit against the county, Lennar Homes, LLC, and Downrite Engineering & Development Corp. to stop bridge and road construction was dismissed in county circuit court in October 2020.
The town said it will seek to have its case heard in the Third District Court of Appeals if mediation fails; the second mediation session is scheduled for Thursday.
During the dispute, the town built a small park on the east side of the bridge.
The proposed fire lane would not affect the park, Pidermann said.
On March 17, the county notified Pidermann that if the park was not taken down within 10 days, the county would “clear the subject area” and bill the town for costs, according to a letter from Miami-Dade County Chief Operations Manager Jimmy Morales.
In response, Miami Lakes officials announced plans for a press conference and rally at the park, prompting the county to proceed with mediation instead of dismantling the park.