End of the Road

Kenny Malone

I spent last Thursday, in the thick of afternoon rush hour, at the I-95 on-ramp just southwest of the Arsht Center. At around 4:30 p.m., the scene is one-half auto show, one-half salmon-spawning.

I walked from open window to open window hoping to confirm something I’ve always suspected: People don’t really know what the speed limit is on I-95. Even the people seconds away from driving on it.

CW Griffin / Miami Herald

South Florida’s graffiti problem in the 1990’s had a poster child: Crook and Crome.

They had tags in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Greg Castillo

At around 5 a.m. on March 5, 2011, five motorists were standing on the emergency shoulder of the Interstate 95 express lanes after a series of accidents.

"Meanwhile, a drunk driver entered the toll lanes. Speeding. Lost control," says attorney Edward Blumberg. "And then struck all five people... and hit them head on."

Four people died on the scene, the fifth died at Jackson Memorial Hospital, according to police records.

Illustration by Wilson Sayre

Early in the morning on September 8, 1993, Uwe Rakebrand and his wife, Kathrin, are driving from the Miami airport to a hotel on Miami Beach in their rented red Toyota Corolla. They have just arrived from Germany on a belated honeymoon.

As they approach I-95, the couple's car is bumped from behind. Kathrin had just read a crime brochure explaining what to do in this very type of situation, and Uwe follows its advice: Don’t pull over, it might be a robber.

Kenny Malone

There is nothing worse than a three paragraph preamble to a listicle. So all you need to know for this, in case you haven’t been following our End of the Road series, is that WLRN spent the last year doing stories about the final 87 miles of Interstate 95 -- the South Florida stretch. We’ve learned some very useful/strange things along the way.

Please enjoy the following facts for personal use and distribution while attending local cocktail and dinner parties.

Florida Department of Transportation

Those poor, orange plastic poles didn’t stand a chance against Bliss Aruj. The 17-year-old had just started driving. She was cruising along “in” the I-95 express lanes.

“My mom goes, ‘Bliss! You’re hitting the cones!’” Bliss recalls. “I think I might have taken out about 20 of them in a row.”

Kenny Malone / WLRN

Sixteen-year-old Nina Galoppi says she and her friends simply call I-95 "The Big Road." Many of them avoid it altogether, opting instead for slower, smaller roads to get around.

"It's a really scary road when you think about it," Galoppi says. "That’s where the adults, that’s where trucks, everyone drives there. You don’t want to drive there if you don’t have to."

Images from FDOT.

South Florida drivers will need to relearn the ins-and-outs of the I-95 express lanes. Specifically where to get in and where to get out.

“Phase 2” of 95 Express will extend the so-called “Lexus Lanes” to Broward Boulevard. Weather permitting, the expansion is scheduled to open this spring. Those plastic divider poles could start popping up this month.

Graphic by Kenny Malone

You’ve heard of “big tent” political parties. How about “big overpass” parties?

Is GOP the party of Interstate 95?” read a headline from McClatchy Newspapers last month.

About two weeks after the November midterm elections, the Republican Governors Association met in Boca Raton. During a press conference, newly appointed chairman -- and Tennessee governor -- Bill Haslam told a group of reporters about a recent revelation.

Earlier this year the Florida Department of Transportation entered into a partnership with the traffic data company Waze. The Israeli startup, now owned by Google, lets “Wazers” use a smartphone app to report the location of crashes, congestion, potholes, road kill and police officers among many other things.

The agreement is purely a “data-sharing” partnership. Waze gets access to the stream of information produced by the road sensors FDOT uses to monitor traffic flow on Florida’s major highways. And FDOT gets access to the myriad reports filed by Wazers.

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