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August 14th, 2014

MAST construction will cause delays during drop-off hours

K

ey Biscayne’s Police Chief is warning residents to expect significant traffic tie-ups on the Rickenbacker Causeway and Crandon Boulevard next week as construction at MAST Academy changes traffic patterns for parents dropping off and picking up students.
School starts Monday, August 18, and the message from KBPD Chief Charles Press is clear: “There is no doubt in my mind that traffic coming from the Key should expect delays, and there will absolutely be delays for people coming onto the Key to drop off students,” he said.
“Leave early, and expect delays.”
Press said the worst period will probably be between 7-8:30 a.m., and he noted next week will likely be the most trying; although construction will last all school year. “It’s going to be a traffic nightmare for a while, until people get used to it,” according to Press.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the difficulties are linked to a positive outcome: construction is underway on a new facility at the MAST campus to serve 1,100 Key Biscayne students in grades 6-12, finally giving the Village its own public high school.
However, because of construction, Press said parents will no longer be able to drive onto campus to turn around after dropping off their student.
Instead, motorists will enter where they always have and make a tight U-turn right after the end of the concrete barrier that separates incoming and outgoing traffic.
It’s a very small space, Press noted, meaning only a few cars at once will be able to navigate the area; and the tight turn means vehicles will be moving very slowly.
Furthermore, traffic coming from off the Key will not be allowed to turn left into the school under any circumstances, so vehicles will need to proceed to Arthur Lamb Jr. Road and make the U-turn into oncoming northbound traffic – once again causing delays.
“Traffic will back up onto the Rickenbacker and Crandon Boulevard,” Press said. “There’s just no way to get around it, at least in the near future.”
He said Miami-Dade and Miami-Dade Schools Police will be onsite to move vehicles as safely and quickly as possible, and his department will assign an officer to make sure police at MAST are doing all they can to prevent traffic backups for residents leaving the Key.
However, the Chief said, more local officers won’t be dispatched to the causeway: the Village is already down two crossing guards, so Key Biscayne Police – including the Chief himself and other department leaders – will be handling traffic duty around schools inside the Village, which also get underway starting Monday.
Press said Key Biscayne Police will meet with their County counterparts Monday evening to review traffic flow and make changes as necessary.
He said “maybe down the road” officials would explore other options if the current pattern does not work. For now, though, he said motorists should be patient and cautious and, if possible, time their trips on the causeway to avoid the morning drop-off hours.

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