Just as state transportation officials are preparing a call for bids to rebuild Interstate 395 as an elevated span with a soaring “signature bridge” over Biscayne Boulevard and park space beneath it, civic leaders aiming to create open urban space around the adjacent Arsht Center have done them one better.
On Thursday, they released a fleshed-out conceptual design for an expansive new park and plaza that would provide a new civic frontispiece for the Arsht’s opera and ballet house. The plan includes an interactive water feature beneath the new bridge and a compact but full-blown hardwood hammock forest on the south side.
Town Square Neighborhood Development Corp., the nonprofit chaired by developer Armando Codina that commissioned the plaza plan, calls it “an aspirational vision” that aims to accomplish what city leaders and Florida Department of Transportation officials say is one main goal of the I-395 scheme: to appealingly connect the Arsht at ground level with the rapidly redeveloping north end of downtown Miami on the south side of the roadway. Those areas have long been separated by the highway’s massive embankments, while the existing bridge, a low forbidding span, discourages pedestrian traffic and visually cuts off the Arsht from Museum Park and downtown.