Workers are installing new signs and preparing to stripe the new roadway in anticipation of the permanent closing this weekend of the Northwest 87th Avenue ramp from westbound State Road 836, the Dolphin Expressway.
The 87th Avenue ramp, which opened 18 years ago, will be replaced starting 6 a.m. Saturday by a new ramp from westbound 836 to Northwest 84th Avenue in Doral.
The change is one of several major traffic-pattern shifts that will take place Saturday and Sunday as part of the massive, $560 million renovation of the interchange linking 836 with State Road 826, the Palmetto Expressway, just west of Miami International Airport.
Other changes include the permanent closing of a loop ramp from Northwest 72nd Avenue to westbound 836 and opening a new, temporary westbound 836.
The interchange’s overhaul began in November 2009 and is scheduled for completion in late 2015.
“These are among the most significant changes so far in the project,” said Oscar González, project spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation.
Once the project is completed, soaring new ramps and flyovers will link 826 and 836, the idea being to make it easier for commuters to travel between the two busy expressways and to exit to or enter from major nearby avenues and streets, including Milam Dairy Road, Northwest 72nd Avenue and Northwest 12th Street.
The changes coming this weekend are part of a four-part series of traffic-pattern shifts.
In early January, the contractor opened four new, permanent ramps and flyovers giving drivers traveling in both directions on 836 easier access to the southbound Palmetto as well as to West Flagler Street and Southwest Eighth Street.
This weekend’s changes, starting at 6 a.m. Saturday, include the permanent closing of the 87th Avenue ramp and the closing of the 72nd Avenue loop ramp.
And at 6 a.m. Sunday, a new way to continue on westbound 836 and to enter 826 northbound or southbound will take effect.
Now, after drivers on westbound 836 pass 57th Avenue, if they want to continue west on 836 they have to stay in the left three lanes, and if they want to exit onto northbound or southbound 826 they stay to the right.
Starting Sunday, the pattern will flip. Drivers continuing on westbound 836 will have to stay to the right and those bound for 826 north or south will move to the left two lanes.
The next change will come at 836 and 72nd Avenue.
Drivers on 72nd Avenue who want to go west on 836 right now take a small loop ramp that puts them onto the expressway.
That ramp will close for good Friday night, and starting Saturday morning drivers will use a temporary access road, turning west on Northwest 11th Street, which will lead them to westbound 836 and both directions of 826.
Perhaps the change with the biggest impact in Doral will be the closing of the 87th Avenue ramp.
Starting Saturday, drivers on 836 will exit at a new Northwest 84th Avenue ramp. To reach 87th Avenue, they can turn west onto Northwest 12th Street.