I woke up to an email from the Florida Department of Transportation regarding the express lanes. I thought to myself, “they are finally going to fix this mess”. Well, not quite. Not only are they not going to fix the dangerous condition they created in Miami-Dade, they are going to double down are reek havoc on Broward county. See the email below:
Traffic patterns on northbound I-95 are changing. On the night of Monday, March 28, weather permitting, workers will begin installing plastic poles from the current Express Lane exit point located just south of Hallandale Beach Boulevard to SR 84. This will take several nights to complete and the express lanes will extend daily until all the poles are in and the new permanent entrance and exit locations are established. These poles will create a permanent barrier between the general use lanes and the new express lanes. Drivers are encouraged to remember these important safety tips:
– Stay in your lane
– Do not drive over the plastic poles
– Obey the posted speed limit
– If you enter the express lanes unintentionally, remain calm and continue north until you can exit the express lanes safely
Are they kidding? Nobody stays in their lane, everyone drives over the plastic poles, nobody obeys the speed limit, and nobody knows where to get on and off.
They managed to highlight everyone of the issues that made The I-95 express lanes standout as the most poorly designed, poorly maintained and most dangerous stretch of highway in a modern city(assuming we are a modern city). Unfortunately, the DOT refuses to make any safety improvements, and have placed a value on dollars over safety.
The Miami version of the express lanes were created by eliminating the emergency shoulder and narrowing the remaining lanes in hopes of adding an additional lane and plastic barriers. That was a huge mistake, and I mean “HUGE”. First and foremost, by eliminating the emergency shoulder the D.O.T. created a dangerous condition for all stranded motorist. If your car breaks down on this stretch of I-95 or you are in an accident, watch out, because there is no safe place to pull over. The Florida Highway Patrol was never asked for their input regarding the potential dangers that could ensue by eliminating the shoulder.
Given the fact that there is no shoulder, the FHP, justifiably so, cannot properly enforce the stretch of highway. Specifically, they will not pull over the “lane divers” that weave in and out of the express lanes. The accidents that occur on a daily basis on this stretch of highway are serious, and have resulted in at least 3 deaths, an amputation, and hundreds of broken bones and other significant injuries. Please understand that the high speed lanes are separated from the regular lanes by plastic poles that are approximately 6 inches in diameter and 3 feet tall. They do not stop anyone, nor do they deter any dangerous conduct. In fact most of these poles are broken, and the D.O. T. has simply given up on replacing them. If ever there was a place to build a wall……
Channel 1o reporter Jeff Weinsier did a great investigative report on the dangers of the express lanes. I encourage you to watch it.
The only remedy at this point is for the DOT to eliminate one (1) of the express lanes. By eliminating one lane, there will be enough room to create a shoulder, widen the existing lanes, and place a larger and more secure divider between the express lane and the regular lanes. As it stands today, the express lanes are far from express. They are often closed because of, you guessed it, an accident. By elimination one lane, traffic will actually flow better. Most accidents are caused by cars switching lanes-with only one lane and permanent barriers-most accidents will be eliminated. If there is an accident, the cars can pull over onto a shoulder.
We have placed the DOT on notice of the dangerous condition, and hope they will make the much needed changes. In the meantime, good luck Broward county!
Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 30 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for many years.