The signature bridge craze consumes Florida

In recent years the growth of stylish brides with no real purpose other than to look impressive has dominated much of the push toward “new urbanism.” It began with the “big dig” in Boston and the building of the Zakim Bridge in Boston.


Dallas with very little unique architecture of its own then decided to go crazy building three gaudy, expensive bridges across the narrow Trinity River (which is the width of a wide drainage canal in south Florida. So other places got into the act. Cities built and became proud of their bridges putting pictures and drawings on collateral material.

Margaret Hunt Bridge in Dallas By Gus Rios – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Here in Florida, Orlando led off by pushing a gateway to the city project with zero engineering value on the East-West Expressway across Lake Underhill. The new span which opened in 2010 is attractive, looking like a mini version of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. though its proximity to Orlando Executive Airport (Herndon) limited the size of the towers.

Since 2007 or so any number of pedestrian bridges in Florida cities have come up with a cable-stayed or classic arch span. Some have looked real nice like the one across I-4 just south of Sanford, while others haven’t been so attractive. Last year, at FIU a bridge designed more for its aesthetics than its functionality collapsed.

FIU bridge collapse aftermath from National Transportation Safety Board [Public domain

Now after years of one proposal after another about how to proceed with the long overdue rebuild of blighted I-395 in Miami, work has begin on turning it to into a signature bridge. In fact, they’re even calling it “the signature bridge,” which means much like the bridges in Dallas and other parts of the country it’ll appear all over paraphernalia for Miami in the future. The 395 bridge promises to the be mother of all coolly lit urban bridges in Florida.

From Connecting Miami/

The rebuild of I-395 will take about four years (it’s Miami-Dade County so let’s expect it to take seven) but in the end we’ll have a shiny new bridge to be proud of in south Florida – and one unlike the Orlando bridge that has an engineering purpose.

In all seriousness though, residents of south Florida should be excited about the project as it will make access to Miami Beach easier as well as create an ability to walk from Museum Park to the Performing Arts Center and Omni district. Currently the only option is to take the Metromover rather than walk through the blighted underpasses of 395.


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