haos on the causeway
I had the extreme displeasure of driving to Key Biscayne Sunday, April 6, at approximately 11:30 a.m. to attend a company picnic.
My approach was from the north heading southbound on I-95. Approximately 1 mile prior to the Key Biscayne (Rickenbacker) exit traffic came to a complete standstill in the two right lanes. As I sat in the lanes for approximately 20 minutes attempting to not only be courteous but also follow the rules of the road, I watched car after car passing on the left and attempting to cut in. I guess it was pretty naïve of me to think that all or the vast majority of drivers in South Florida would afford me the same courtesy of waiting to exit.
After approximately 20 minutes of watching this mayhem and having only moved forward a few feet, I decided to take a different approach to get to the causeway via South Bayshore Drive. This approach was also very congested, but as I found out later from others who waited up to an hour and a half in traffic, this was a much better decision than my original I-95 approach. Even on Bayshore, as I got closer to the turnoff for the causeway, I again observed many cars going around those of us that waited, and they made right turns from the middle lane. In addition, the entire intersection just prior to the tollgate was almost completely blocked in all directions with very few cars adhering to the traffic lights.
After what I determined was an hour delay on my part, I was finally on my approach to the toll booth. It was readily apparent that the delay, at least in large part, was due to the fact that two toll booths were closed and under construction.
Upon this observation, my frustration only turned to anger. After muttering a number of choice expletives I started thinking of how many ways this gridlock could have been handled differently:
For starters, law enforcement was nonexistent. They should be have been out in force controlling and directing traffic. In addition, cones and temporary signage should have been put in place to funnel the orderly flow of traffic into exit lanes and advise the public what was going on, similar to what is done prior to games at what was formerly Pro Player Stadium.
At the toll gates there could be a second temporary toll taker in front of each gate, which would have also expedited the process, similar to Port Everglades on cruise day departures.
But beyond all of that, I believe the County had a moral and ethical obligation to temporarily suspend tolls, especially on the weekend. Is it fair to make thousands sit in traffic for over one hour to collect $1.75? Apparently the County thinks it is.
Beyond putting a needless damper on thousands, even ruining a beautiful Sunday for many (some in our group gave up and never made it) and what about the poor residents of Key Biscayne who had no choice? Beyond that, how much needless fuel was burned, and how much more contaminated was air quality with thousands of cars needlessly idling for hours?
Beyond a moral and ethical obligation, I would hope FDOT or the state has the right to legally step in when one public entity’s greed and arrogance can wreak such havoc, especially where an interstate is so detrimentally affected or so many safety factors are compromised, including:
• Turning I-95 into a virtual parking lot with no controls in place for directing traffic. This creates a huge danger for high speed crashes.
• Traffic blocking driveways of both residential and commercial buildings on surface streets.
• Massive delays for any emergency vehicles that need to get onto the Key, especially in a mutual aid situation where local authorities could be quickly overwhelmed, especially in the case of a fire or large accident.
• Delays getting to Mercy Hospital especially with so many intersections being blocked primarily due to a lack of law enforcement.
If this was a private entity creating these delays, the County wouldn’t hesitate to require them to take the necessary steps to mitigate the traffic, including paying for additional law enforcement. This begs the question, is the County exempt or above their own requirements? From my observations, this appears to be the case.
I hope this letter makes someone take action and saves thousands from future aggravation.