As you know, the Palmetto Expressway recently took some of the regular traffic lanes to turn them into “Express Lanes.”  The idea is to allow drivers who are driving longer distances the ability to bypass localized traffic.  In that sense, the new Palmetto Express lanes work.  If you need to get from Flagler and the Palmetto to the Ludlam exit on the Palmetto, you can do so with ease on the Express Lanes.

However, this “success” has come at the detriment to anyone who needs to use the Palmetto expressway locally.   The new Express Lanes have funneled all the local traffic into a bottleneck of just 3 lanes.  This bottleneck then backs up for miles.

The cynical will say that this is by design.  The FDOT created this bottleneck on purpose to encourage people to pay to use the express lanes.  The cynical will say that the only way express lanes make money is when it pays to bypass the local traffic.

We’re not that cynical, but we do believe the FDOT has to admit that the express lanes have created a negative traffic pattern that is now slower and more congested, than it was before the installation of the express lanes.  Those are just facts.

Furthermore, the FDOT created this bottleneck in an area where you don’t even get the option to jump on the express lanes.

The 1st express lane entrance on the northbound Palmetto is just north of the 836 / Dolphin Expressway.  Ideally, you should be able to get on the express lane and be able to exit at NW 103rd Street (aka la 49) or at least Okeechobee Road.  These are the two biggest arteries in the 2nd biggest city in Miami-Dade County.  Surely, the FDOT would have allowed people who live, work, go to school, or otherwise do business in Hialeah some kind of smooth access?  Unfortunately, they did not.  So anyone who needs to get off at Okeechobee or 103rd street cannot use the express lanes.

If you’re going in the opposite southbound direction of the Palmetto in Hialeah, again, you have no way to enter the Express Lanes.  At NW 103rd street, there’s a nasty bottleneck of 5 lanes that funnels traffic from the Palmetto, I-75, and NW 122nd street from 5 lanes to just 3 lanes.

Where before, there was smooth free-flowing traffic, now you have cars and trucks polluting the environment, wasting time and money sitting in traffic…even during non-rush hour times.  It’s beyond ridiculous.

We thought we might not be the only ones who were concerned about the nasty traffic and so we asked the Miami Springs Community Group what they thought about the changes to the Palmetto.  Here’s how the community that uses the Palmetto responded:

QUESTION:
Are you experiencing more or less traffic on the Palmetto Expressway since the introduction of the Express Lanes?

  • More traffic:  92%
  • Less traffic:  4%
  • Same traffic:  4%

Community Comments

Stella Cogno The bottom line is that with the growing population, the Palmetto is not enough. They need a new highway. And unfortunately, that will mean higher taxation. Without it, rush hours will take 3-4 hours in a few years.

Jacquie Neetz It profoundly impacts the time it takes for Rescue to return to territory from Palmetto. So much so, that many times we will choose other hospitals. Looking forward to Jackson West opening and being able to avoid traffic by taking the Cargo City flyover back.

Nelson Suarez Its a pure money grab. nothing more. Whether a person gets in the express lanes or not, they still pay something. Either in tolls for the express lanes, or with time and poor fuel economy because they are stuck in traffic.

Alex Leon Northbound they shut one lane down onto the 75 N. That is possibly the worst thing at 4-6 o clock traffic. Takes an hour from 36 st to make it to that ramp.

Elaine Martin:  Alex Leon yep, forcing more people to work their way over to the Palmetto “Expre$$” lanes!

Martha Heermance Bradford More traffic. But there are also more people since they are building large apartment buildings with parking garages.

Marcelle Suarez-Santamaria It takes me twice as long to get through Medley/Hialeah area…and I don’t even have the option of getting on the Express lanes. 20 years of construction waiting for the palmetto to expand to improve the 826, and this is what we get. We have been SHAFTED by legislators having approved this. Anyone know which politicians voted yes to this project so that we know before voting season? Someone is banking on this….and it’s surely no benefit to the citizens.

Todd Gompertz-Click Rush hour for people with money. Crawl hour lane is for the rest.

Ili Utrera Eliminate the express lanes and charge everyone getting on the high”speed” way. Cramming 5 to 6 lanes into 3 is bottle necking traffic.

Dolores Dorrego Why did they make the express lane two lanes? It bottle necks the other side and makes people feel even more crazy! It’s a terrible idea😡

Erika Gonzalez Torres It’s insane. MIAMI IS FULL ! No Vacancy ! Don’t move here lol !!

Solutions

It’s always easy to point out the problem.  Coming up with a solution is far tougher.  We have a few proposals and would love your feedback on which solution you believe will work best.

Reduce the Express Lanes

Shrink the Express Lanes down to one lane.  Increase the rate for that lane. This would free up an additional local lane to allow local traffic to flow through and eliminate part of the bottle neck created by the Express Lanes.

Add Entrances / Exits to Express Lanes in Hialeah

I’m sure many of the people stuck in the Hialeah bottleneck would gladly jump onto the express lanes.  But since there isn’t a single entrance or exit in Hialeah, they cannot use it.  It’s clear the FDOT didn’t consider the needs of drivers doing business in the 2nd biggest city in the County.

Eliminate the Express Lanes:  Toll Free

Get rid of the Express Lanes completely.  Make the Palmetto free to use for all lanes the way it’s always been.

Eliminate the Express Lanes:  Toll All Lanes

At the end of the day, the FDOT needs money.  I’m sure people stuck in traffic are willing to pay a quarter or two daily in exchange for wasting less gas and time stuck on the Palmetto.  Give everyone a better highway and let everyone share in the expense equally.

What do I do?

Complaining on social media isn’t going to do change anything at FDOT.  Who do I contact?

To be fair, the legislators listed below are freshman and were not in office when this plan was approved and funded.  But, they are in office now. They are the ones who need to author a solution to this problem.  And they definitely want to hear from you.

FLORIDA SENATOR MANNY DIAZ, JR.

Senator Diaz

10001 Northwest 87th Avenue
Hialeah Gardens, FL 33016
(305) 364-3073

 

 

 

FLORIDA REPRESENTATIVE BRYAN AVILA

Representative Avila Photo

301 Hialeah Drive, Suite 117
Hialeah, FL 33010-5259
(305) 805-5127

 

 

PALMETTO EXPRESS LANE PROJECT CONTACTS:

Maria Camacho, Community Outreach Specialist – Construction Project

Phone: (305) 731-7699|E-mail: maria.camacho@qcausa.com

Kathy McLendon, Construction Project Manager

Phone: (305) 640-7437|E-mail: Kathy.McLendon@dot.state.fl.us

Gerdy St. Louis, Community Outreach Specialist – Design Project

Phone: (305) 573-0089|E-mail: Gerdy@iscprgroup.com

Mike Ciscar, Community Outreach Specialist – PD&E Project

Phone: (305) 597-0735|E-mail: MCiscar@corradino.com

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