Northwest 59th Avenue road and bridge project moves forward

Government By Alexandra Herrera, Reporter Wednesday, November 29, 2023

     The Town Council of Miami Lakes approved a temporary transfer of up to $2.5 million from the general fund to begin spending on the Northwest 59 Avenue project.

     “We’ll borrow only what we need,” Town Manager Edward Pidermann said after the Nov. 14 council meeting. “Once we get reimbursed from state and federal governments, we’ll transfer the money back.”

       Pidermann said the money has to be repaid within a year.

     “We’ve got to spend the cash first and then get it reimbursed,” he said about the bridge and road extension that received $14.4 million from county, state and federal governments. “The project is fully funded with various grants.” 

     The initial borrowing is being used to purchase a warehouse and office building owned by TSC Investments at 5951 NW 151st St. in an eminent domain transaction that will settle litigation. 

     The council approved the transaction with Mayor Manny Cid and Councilman Luis Collazo dissenting. 

     Also approved in a split vote was hiring a consultant to oversee the road extension that will connect Northwest 167th Street and Miami Lakes Drive.

     Collazo asked Pidermann if the project has had any delays under his supervision. 

     “I believe most of the delays are not controllable by me and my staff,” Pidermann said during the meeting. 

     Since Pidermann and staff didn’t seek an overseer, Collazo asked that the consultant be an option, but a majority of the council voted against it.

     The council passed Vice Mayor Tony Fernandez’s motion -- with Collazo and Councilmembers Josh Dieguez and Marilyn Ruano dissenting -- to hire a consultant for 10 or more hours per week, at a cost to be determined. 

     “We’ll have to price it out and figure out what it will be,” Pidermann said after the meeting. “[The council] want a complete oversight of the project. It’s not somebody we’ll go to on an as needed basis. It will probably be a firm.”

     The town will issue a request for qualifications and then negotiate a price.

     “[The request for qualifications] could take time to develop and we want to make sure it is comprehensive and reflects what we’re looking for,” Pidermann said. “It will probably happen before the end of the year. It will be a contract and we’ll put it on a council agenda early next year.” 

     Pidermann listed events that must happen for work to proceed.

     Pending is the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of the realigned path of the proposed bridge over the canal, and settlement of the eminent domain case. 

    Next, Miami-Dade County Aviation would have to execute a license agreement and Caterpillar and the school board, on behalf of Miami Lakes Educational Center, would have to sign off on easements, as the project affects those properties.

     “Once we have that, subsequent dominoes will start to fall,” Pidermann told the council. 

     He said a construction contract could be awarded before the end of 2024 and work could be completed in early 2026.