West Avenue Project Closer to Restart

West Ave

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

West Avenue Project Closer to Restart:

Cost higher due to enhancements and delay

The West Avenue Neighborhood Improvement Project is one step closer to being restarted. The project which includes upgrading aging underground infrastructure was halted along with all others that have elements of resiliency, most notably elevation of roads, while Miami Beach evaluated its efforts to combat flooding. At its December meeting, City Commissioners approved change orders to pay for additional above ground improvements for pedestrians and bikes and greater resiliency measures. The additional costs, however, also include the price of delaying the project.
The first phase of the West Avenue project was completed but Phase Two was put on hold after the 2017 election and promises by incoming Mayor Dan Gelber and Commissioner Mark Samuelian to create a "red team" to study the City’s resiliency strategy to determine if it was on the right track. West Avenue residents weren’t necessarily unhappy about the delay, expressing frustration that while Phase One addressed the underground needs and the raising of roads, there was little to no thought about the above ground aesthetics.
Aesthetics and the importance of community input were key elements of the final report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) which looked at Miami Beach's strategy earlier this year. The ULI review was paid for by the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative (100RC). 
While the City digests the ULI recommendations, the West Avenue project was placed in the Resilience Accelerator, a joint initiative of 100RC and Columbia University, which had as its premise kickstarting projects from design to action. A multi-disciplinary team that included Miami Beach staff, the contractor, and community leaders worked on concerns and ideas for improving the project including road elevation, road harmonization with private properties, turning lanes vs. roadway medians, pedestrian and bicycle prioritization, enhanced walkability, enhanced tree canopy, stormwater quality, baywalk connectivity and construction phasing.

The team’s goal was to come out of the Accelerator with a change order to fund the additional improvements and to get the project started again as soon as possible. The change orders approved by the Commission address the areas north of 14th Street and south of 14th, two projects but one contractor, Ric-Man Construction.
Basic elements of the project include a minimum road elevation of 3.7’ NAVD and three continuous vehicular travel lanes. While some residents would prefer center medians, a continuous center lane to allow for turns and emergency vehicle access was maintained for traffic flow and safety. Meetings will take place with affected property owners within the next 2-3 months to discuss the harmonization of the street with their individual properties. Six prototypes were developed at the Accelerator workshop as a starting point.  
The 70 feet of right-of-way space will invert the equation to put more emphasis on pedestrians, bicycles and greenspace with 40 feet dedicated to those purposes and 30 feet for vehicles. Parking would be eliminated south of 14th Street to provide more space for pedestrians and greenspace. 
Other elements include:
  • Addressing the quality of the water being discharged from the pumps into Biscayne Bay through pollution control devices.
  • Updating the design criteria for storm protection from a 5-year to a 10-year storm event.
  • North of 14th: Installing five permanent stormwater auxiliary power generators at four locations; two at 14th Street, one at 17th Street, one at Bay Road and one at Lincoln Road. 
  • South of 14th: Installing four permanent stormwater auxiliary power generators at three locations; one at 5th Street, one at 6th Street and two at 10th Street. The generator for 5th Street and one of the two generators for 10th Street are for pump stations installed by FDOT.
  • Resurfacing the Alton Court alleyway from 8th Street to 14th Street.
  • Updating and enhancing all street ends, including 10th Street, 14th Street, 16th Street, Lincoln Terrace, Lincoln Road, Bay Road north of Lincoln Road and Lincoln Court to accommodate more tree canopy, wider sidewalks where possible, and pavers to provide an enhanced pedestrian experience and connectivity to the baywalk.
One of the most important elements is the commitment to increased community participation and input throughout the process.
The improvements come at a cost. The change order for the north of 14th Street area takes the cost from $32,940,276 to $50,704,176, including contingency.
For south of 14th, the overal cost increases from $14,278,113 to $20,845,113, including contingency.
Included in each total is the cost of delaying the project: increased salary and labor costs and increased costs of materials including asphalt, pump equipment, concrete and fuel costs “due to work stoppage for approximately one year,” according Ric-Man’s proposal. In addition, there is a cost of "re-start impact" detailed as “loss of efficiency, loss of employees, overhead costs, and re-hire fees.”
For the north of 14th Street section, the delays cost $1,759,957, almost 10% of the $17,763,900 increase.

For the south of 14th contract, the cost of the delay is $587,484, almost 9% of the 6,567,000 increase.
RE:MiamiBeach asked Assistant City Manager Eric Carpenter if there were other projects caught in the middle that would similarly face increased costs due to the delay. In an email he responded, “There is one other project that is similar in situation to the West Ave project, Central Bayshore south. There are other issues that still need resolution on the Stormwater scoping side regarding the incorporation of the former par 3 site but we have an existing contract in place that will need a change order to restart the Stormwater portion of the work.” The former Par 3 site is in the queue for development as a community park. It was included for funding in the General Obligation (GO) Bond offering approved by voters this past November. The Central Bayshore neighborhood remains divided on the elevation of its roads.

Funding sources for the West Avenue project could include water and sewer bonds, stormwater bonds, County Interlocal Agreement funds, or the 2018 GO Bond.
Specifics on the north of 14th section are here.

Specifics on the south of 14th section are here.


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