Ten years in the making, an overpass that will ensure pedestrians safe passage a cross busy U.S. 1 at Mariposa Court moved a giant step closer to completion early Saturday morning, when two cranes lifted a 125-foot translucent, covered bridge linking the east side of the highway at the University Centre strip mall to the Metrorail’s University Center station.
Installation of the steel bridge, which is slated to open to foot traffic next spring, began late Friday night in an exacting operation that required three cranes and continued through early Saturday morning. It began with crews connecting the three pieces of the bridge on site and then hoisting the 137,000-pound span, which was made in Alabama out of steel plates and steel tubing, onto the supports on each side of US 1.
UM students began lobbying for a pedestrian bridge nearly 11 years ago, when freshman Ashley Kelly was struck and killed by a car while crossing the busy intersection. The day after her death, the Student Government Senate passed the Ashley Kelly Resolution calling for construction of a bridge at the intersection. In July 2013, Miami-Dade commissioners greenlighted the plan and, at the April 2015 groundbreaking ceremony, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez called the $6 million project “a giant step” in protecting the more than 1,300 pedestrians who cross the intersection every day.
To reach this point, the bridge had to overcome many obstacles, most notably trying to figure out where the bridge would land on the south side of US 1. When one plan fell through, City of Coral Gables commissioners unanimously agreed to transfer control of Mariposa Court to Miami-Dade County, paving the way for the bridge’s construction.
“That’s a testament to how important we believe this project is,” Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason said at the time.
A major supporter of public transportation, UM subsidizes its employees who use county buses, Metrorail, and Tri-Rail through its Public Transportation Benefit Program. Many of those employees cross the intersection of US 1 and Mariposa to get to work, and the area is no doubt seeing even more pedestrians now that The Lennar Foundation Medical Center opened across the street.