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MacArthur Causeway Traffic "Nightmare" On The Way

MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – The Miami Beach City Commission held a special meeting Monday to talk about an impending traffic nightmare coming to the area.

"We don't know what the hell is going on," said Miami Beach Commissioner Jorge Esposito. "I am just so frustrated today, because it makes me look like an idiot sitting up here."

The Florida Department of Transportation will close a flyover that eastbound traffic coming off the MacArthur Causeway uses to go north on Alton Road. The closure is scheduled to last roughly a month, according to FDOT. With the flyover closed, FDOT will make repairs to the bridge.

The repairs include strengthening the barriers on the roadway. The only catch to the construction was Miami Beach commissioners said they weren't notified of the plan, even though FDOT said they told the city two weeks ago.

"The fact that you hadn't talked to us and I had to find out from a sign entering the city was not a good way to do it," Miami Beach Commissioner Deede Weithorn told FDOT.

"It's a difficult operation," said Enrique Tamayo of FDOT. "It's a very congested area, but we certainly feel that we have a good plan in place and that our contractor is ready to get to work a week from this coming Sunday."

According to FDOT, it will take anywhere from two to four times longer to get on and off Miami Beach with the flyover closed.

Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales said FDOT notified the city on the morning of another problem in the city.

"That was the morning we discovered a major sewage leak that was going into the Collins canal," Morales said of FDOT's notification.

Once the closure is in place, all eastbound traffic will shift to the 5th Street exit and drivers will then turn north onto Alton Road.

Drivers going either direction on Alton Road around 5th Street will also have to take detours around the intersection to go either north or south on Alton.

The construction is scheduled to begin on July 14.

Other construction already underway on Alton will continue while the flyover is closed.

Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower described the closing as, "chaos."

"I think it's going to be a traffic problem," Bower said. "Fashion Week is coming up. I think it's going to be a nightmare."

Beach residents said the latest construction will take traffic from bad to worse.

"I'd rather be home with the flu," Dino Spencer said. "That's how bad it is. I can only imagine it's going to get worse."

Spencer works at a gym on 5th Street and Washington Ave. He said a lot of his clients already show up late because of traffic from the causeway.

"Everyone's going to be miserable, crying, complaining all the time," Spencer explained. "I'm a boxing coach, maybe business will double because people will want to knock somebody out."

Spencer, like many other beach dwellers, said he prefers to walk whenever he can to avoid the traffic mess.

Philip Maranges said he rarely drives, but is familiar with the delays coming from I-395 to the beach.

"It's definitely a hectic place," Maranges told CBS 4's Lauren Pastrana. "It backs up probably to the entrance of Fisher Island, at least. You're there a good 15-20 minutes."

While commissioners felt they got little notice about the closure, Jose Ramery said his employer has tried to spread the word.

Ramery said he received a memo at work warning about the closure along with a PDF document outlining alternate routes.

"It's a little hectic," he said. "They sent out a memo so everyone would be prepared for it."

But Spencer said he had no clue.

"The way everything is done in the city," Spencer said,"I'm not the least bit surprised."

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