By: Ismael Rodriguez

The Florida Department of Transportation, after much resistance and an earful of public dispute on a controversial decision last week, did not budge in their choice of contractor, awarding the winning party $800 million for the reconstruction of Interstate 395 and its long-anticipated bridge.

The joint venture team led by Archer Western and The de Moya Group edged out the Fluor-Astaldi-MCM team, a crowd-favorite among the Miami community, by half a point with its proposal to build a signature bridge dubbed “The Fountain.”

As a result, former Miami commissioner Marc Sarnoff is alleging that FDOT manipulated the scores to override the community panel’s pick, according to the Miami Herald. Sarnoff is not alone, as others like the Town Square Neighborhood Development Corp, a group that works on neighborhood planning surrounding the Arts & Entertainment District, have voiced similar opinions, referring to the decision as disturbing.

“The project has been closed to public opinion, an $800 million project. That fact alone is shocking. We implore you, do not rubber-stamp,” Jessica Goldman Srebnick, CEO of Goldman Properties, told the press in a similar tone.

Archer Western’s proposal for a new bridge over Biscayne Boulevard is said to contain six support arches of varying heights that sprout from the center of the elevated span toward the outer edges, a design evoking the image of a fountain drenched in an array of different color lights.

The proposal also includes elevating the bridge higher than the minimum requested by FDOT to allow for a 1.2-mile, 55-acre public park underneath called Heritage Trail.

Construction is expected to begin in late 2017 and last about five years, although that timeline could be delayed by a bid protest from the second-ranked team, according to the Herald.