Fall 1995 – Is Brickell roadway to remain a checkerboard?

While the median landscaping issue has come to a somewhat satisfactory resolution, Brickell Homeowners Association directors are still trying to work with the Florida Department of Transportation on resolving the rehabilitation project that left Brickell Avenue looking like a “broken checkerboard.”

Added to the dilemma of fixing the eyesore, communication from FDOT continues to have its highs and lows. (See letter to District Secretary that follows.

Residents continue to voice their disappointment while BHA directors search for way to improve the appearance of the roadway. A Florida International University professor, Dr. B.N.O. Attoh-Okine, and FDOT experts from outside of South Florida have been called in for guidance. Short of redoing the entire Avenue from 15th to 25th Road, which would be tremendously expensive and inconvenient (again) for residents, the experts say that possible remedies are extremely limited.

Resurface? Redo?

The roadway cannot simply be resurfaced with a layer of nice, black asphalt, because the asphalt would crack over the concrete base and require frequent, costly maintenance, the experts agree.

Paints, plastics or other coatings, such as those used for driveways or patios, would not stand up under all the traffic traveling Brickell, which is officially part of US Highway 1. (Brickell traffic is expected to increase significantly when the Brickell Bridge reopens.) Additionally, such a coating may make for a slippery safety hazard by decreasing road friction, experts warn.

Adding a whole new layer of uniform concrete would require first grinding down the current concrete, making for another lengthy, and messy, construction project.

Testing the Law

BHA Directors are presently reluctant to test FDOT’s compliance with the amendment to Florida Statute F.S. 336.045, effective April 8, 1992, which calls upon FDOT to develop standards and criteria for road design, construction and maintenance, specfically including appropriate aesthetics. According to FDOT’s District VI Director Jose Abreu, no formal standards and criteria have been developed to date. FDOT has acknowledged that they should have at least addressed trying to match the new cement and aggregate to the old, but it was simply overlooked.

FDOT representatives told BHA directors at their October meeting that they will consider expanding their quest for possible solutions by testing some new products on the market. Dr. Jamshid Armaghani, FDOT’s chief pavement engineer from the State Materials Office in Gainesville, is researching products and other states’ experiences, but said he needs authorization from this FDOT district before he can conduct actual tests.

FDOT representatives did not attend the November BHA Board of Directors meeting and report any progress, but have promised a report back to BHA Directors in January 1996.

Structurally Sound?

While aesthetic concerns remain unresolved, Dr. Armaghani reported that in his study conducted in October he found that Brickell Avenue is structurally sound. He said that the longitudinal joint down the middle is a deliberate, “orderly crack” and the roadway exceeds today’s strength requirements. He said the new concrete slabs added were also sound, although he recommended joint fillers for between the slabs for a quieter, more comfortable ride.

Earlier Dr. Attoh-Okine had raised questions about the structural soundness of the road, but upon conferring with Dr. Armaghani, he reported his concerns were answered by Dr. Armaghani, whom he considers the foremost “expert in the country.”

Dr. Armaghani explained that the roadway created in the mid-1930s on the coastal ridge is well built and includes a layer of steel under the concrete. Only six percent of the 35,000 lane miles of state highways are concrete.

Median Landscaping Improved

The Florida Department of Transportation appropriated an additional $30,000 toward the improvement of the median landscaping project that fell short of many residents’ expectations. The additional funds covered about 90 more trees, which met most of the requests of the BHA ad hoc committee headed by Roberta Slonim and Fran Zion.

Enrique Nunez, landscape architect with the City of Miami Public Works Department, developed the specifications based on the committee’s recommendations.

The landscaping has been completed but will continue to be monitored by FDOT and is still under warranty. The City of Miami Public Works will contract with a private vendor to maintain the planted areas when the FDOT contractor is released.

BHA Hears from Police

In response to the BHA’s request for assistance from the City of Miami Police Department in keeping vehicles off the newly planted Brickell Avenue medians, Chief Donald Warshaw sent out an Official & General Bulletin, Aug. 29, 1995, that stated:

“No Parking On Brickell Avenue Medians: The medians along Brickell Avenue are being renovated and landscaped by the Department of Transportation at a great cost to the taxpayers. The City of Miami will become responsible for the maintenance and care of the medians. Therefore, it is requested that no vehicles (including utility company trucks) park on the medians. Officers are to take enforcement action against any violators to ensure that the medians are not destroyed due to parking.”

From BHA News, Fall 1995, Vol. V, No. 3