Legal victory brings challenge closer to giving local community the final
say in a bridge design, upholding terms of the FDOT settlement agreement
In a significant victory for the citizens of Miami, a Miami-Dade judge has denied the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) motion to move legal proceedings for the I-395 Signature Bridge project to Tallahassee. This important ruling helps ensure that the voice and vision of the local community will be heard and that the terms of the FDOT settlement will be adhered to.
“The intentional misrepresentations of the truth in this case are staggering, and the FDOT’s continued rejection of the terms – and even existence – of the 2013 negotiated settlement agreement between the City of Miami and the Department cast a cloud of doubt over the Department’s entire process and leadership,” said former Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. “This legal development is a triumph for the people of Miami who fought to have the design of this signature bridge decided by local citizens – not Tallahassee bureaucrats. We will continue to advocate for local choice to be embraced within this historic bridge for our community.”
In an apparent attempt to distance itself from the terms negotiated during the settlement agreement, FDOT – at multiple times in its motion to dismiss – attempted to question the existence of a settlement agreement by using the term “so-called ‘settlement agreement’” or by referring to it as a “misleading designation.” This is in stark contrast to multiple other communications in which the Department acknowledged both the existence of the agreement and its agreed-upon terms.
For instance, in a May 2017 letter from FDOT District 6 Secretary James Wolfe to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Secretary Wolfe stated that “the Department actually afforded the advisory committee greater participation in the procurement process than was strictly required under the terms of its agreement with the City.” The letter goes on to state that the “Department’s procurement process fully complied with both the letter and the spirit of its agreement with the City and with applicable state law.”
Sarnoff said FDOT should honor its commitment to allow Miami-Dade residents to decide the design of the signature bridge, which will become an enduring icon of Miami for decades to come. Currently, FDOT is seeking to award the $800 million contract for a design that received “poor” and “fair” marks from the local review committee during the final scoring phase.
“As we move forward with the discovery process, it is our hope that the FDOT will uphold its end of the bargain and embrace the design chosen by the local aesthetic review committee,” Sarnoff said. “That is the satisfactory outcome, and it’s what this community deserves.”
The judge’s order denying FDOT’s motion to dismiss can be found HERE.