Category Archives: City Issues

Miami Beach issues affecting our island.

Miami-Dade says Venetian island property owners don’t have to pay $24 causeway fee

In the midst of the structural issues with the Venetian bridges, and the news the Miami-Biscayne Island span will close for demolition and reconstruction in a few months comes this news:

Miami-Dade has stopped collecting the $24 administrative fee charged Venetian Island property owners for their toll transponders.

This decision is not related to the bridge issues, says Miami-Dade County Causeways Division Chief Mike Bauman. Rather, it’s due to ongoing  litigation over the $24 fee, he said.

The Venetian was originally built by a private developer, and the legal agreement transferring the roadway and bridges it to the county included language that required it be free to property owners on the Venetian Islands.

The county has been charging the $24 fee property owners for years. In March, property owners were sent forms to renew their transponders and pay the annual $24, with an April 30 deadline.

Many have already paid the renewal fee, but the majority have not, Bauman said. The county stopped collecting it today.

“We’ve been advised to stop charging the $24. I cannot say anything about that because of the litigation,” Bauman said. “I am seeking further direction on what to do about those that have paid.”

The waiver does not apply to renters on the Venetian Islands, or people who use the C-Pass transponders and work on one of the islands.

The Venetian is supposed to switch to  SunPass starting this summer, though that is likely to be delayed because of the Venetian west bridge construction.

Venetian property owners’ SunPass devices will be coded so they are not charged tolls for passing through the Venetian toll booths.

 

 

Is Miami-Dade going to wave C-Pass administrative fees?

Last week, Mr. and Mrs Belle Isle Blog each paid $24 to renew our transponders for the Venetian toll plaza, ahead of the April 30 deadline.

Last night, Miami-Dade Public Works said the westernmost bridge will be closed in four to six months, so it can be demolished and rebuilt, which will take another six to nine months.

This morning, one of our neighbors went to the Toll Plaza office on Biscayne Island to renew his transponder, and was told he didn’t have to — there would be no charge because of the impending bridge closure and the move to SunPass

Apparently, a memo went out this morning. We’ll share more when we know it.

 

Westernmost Venetian Causeway bridge to be closed, rebuilt

The structural problems on the Venetian Causeway’s westernmost bridge mean part of the bridge must be demolished and replaced, Miami-Dade County’s top engineer told the Venetian Way Neighborhood Alliance Tuesday night.

The work will require residents of the Venetian islands to use either the MacArthur or Julia Tuttle causeways to get to mainland Miami.

The bridge won’t be closed for four to six months, Miami-Dade County Engineer Antonio Cotarelo told residents gathered at a meeting at 1000 Venetian Way, so the county can do design work and go through the process of hiring a contractor.

Demolishing and rebuilding the 730 feet of bridge closest to mainland Miami will take an additional six to nine months, Cotarelo said.

There are 12 bridges that link Miami near the old Miami Herald building with Miami Beach near Lincoln Road, part of an historic roadway completed in 1927. Parts of it have been renovated, and the county w in the process of evaluating the condition of the bridges.

But on March 15, a Metro-Dade Transit bus crossing the westernmost bridge heading to Miami Beach got stuck.

“A portion of bridge fell and a hole opened up,” Cotarelo said.

The bridge was closed. Engineers conducted special inspections to evaluate the underside of the bridge. In several places, steel plates were put in place so cars could safely cross. And the county imposed new weight limits for vehicles crossing the bridge, and suspended bus service between mainland Miami and San Marco island.

Now they have determined the bridge can’t be repaired, it must be replaced.

“The end result is aboiut 730 feet nearest to the Miami Herald building will have to be replaced,” Cotarelo said. “We looked at other options…..what we are heading to now is an expedited procurement process for rebuilding the 730 feet of the bridge from the bottom up.”

“We will have to close down that bridge completely so there will be no access to the bridge.”

The county will try and coordinate construction schedules with the Florida Department of Transportation, which already is in the midst of the major road rebuilding project on Alton road — at the eastern end of the Venetian Causeway. But the work will contribute more congestion in the western side of South Beach.

Because of the structural problems, the county has limited the weight of vehicles crossing the westernmost bridge to 5 tons, and imposed an 11 ton limit on the other Venetian bridges. They are notifying regular causeway users — like FPL, Waste Management, landscaping companies and others — so they can use smaller, lighter vehicles.

The Miami Fire Department has made special arrangements to ensure the Venetian isles served by Miami — Biscayne and San Marco — are safe.

Deputy Fire Chief Freddy Fernandez said the city has placed a fire truck on Biscayne Island at a secure condominium that can quickly be put into service on those islands without having the cross the drawbridge. And Miami Fire has an emergency agreement with Miami Beach Fire.

Representatives of Miami-Dade Transit, who also attending the VWNA meeting, said they were trying to locate a smaller, lighter bus that could provide service between the islands and mainland Miami until the bridge is demolished.

Albert Hernandez of Miami-Dade Transit said the county has found a 6 ton bus, and staff is working with Public Works engineers to determine if it can be used. Cotarela said he thought a decision on using the smaller bus could be made within a week.

A Belle Isle resident complained that the county had ceased running the South Beach Local bus route on Belle Isle, even though the bridge on the east end of the causeway can accommodate more weight. Transit representatives said they had a solution to that service disruption.

The news about the bridge demolition overshadowed a discussion about the planned conversion of the Venetian toll system to SunPass, which is supposed to take place this summer. The bridge work may begin before SunPass is in place.

 

Eastbound MacArthur to close overnight — oh, and Tuttle madness, too

The Port of Miami tunnel is supposed to open next month, and getting it ready is causing the MacArthur Causeway to close.

Tonight, beginning at 10 p.m., all eastbound lanes from 200 feet west of Interstate 395 to the Biscayne Boulevard exit will be closed overnight while crews test the new digital messaging signs.

All lanes will re-open to traffic at 5 a.m., Tuesday morning.

Wednesday night starting at 10 a.m. through Thursday at 5:30 am., the MacArthur is supposed to be closed in both directions.

Unrelated, but also starting at 10 p.m. tonight through 5 a.m. Tuesday, all southbound travel lanes and southbound express lanes on Interstate 95 will be closed off just north of the exit to eastbound I-195 (Julia Tuttle Causeway). This is supposed to happen each night through Thursday morning.

 

 

 

Venetian Way Neighborhood Alliance meets Tuesday to talk SunPass, buses, landscaping, bridge repair

The Venetian Way Neighborhood Alliance — an organization that includes all the Miami and Miami Beach groups on along our historic roadway — holds its annual meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

We’ll learn about the upcoming toll plaza conversion to SunPass from Mike Bauman, who oversees the causeway. We’ll hear about the structural issues on Venetian Way bridges and plans to repair and restore them from the Miami-Dade Public Works engineer, Tony Cotarela.

Do you have a question about bus service to Venetian islands? About landscape maintenance along Venetian Way?

Come to the meetingTuesday night. It happens at 1000 Venetian Way in the community room, on Biscayne Island, and no, you can’t take a bus there. At least not right now.

 

Belle Isle residents appeal for Venetian Way bus service connection with Miami

There’s been no direct bus service from Belle Isle and other islands along Venetian Way to downtown Miami since Saturday.

Now, the Belle Isle Residents Association called on the county to find solution to the problem.

Miami-Dade Transit stopped running Route A, which linked the Venetian with the Omni area, on Saturday due to structural problems with the westernmost bridge. Engineers set a weight limit of 5 tons for that bridge, and 11 tons for other causeway bridges; the small Metrobuses used for Route A exceed the 5 ton limit.

As a result, the buses now only cover a limited to a route from the Lincoln Road area that crosses Belle Isle, Rivo Alto, DiLido, San Marino and San Marcos islands, but doesn’t extend to Biscayne Island or over the drawbridge to mainland Miami.

A commuter who wants to travel to the Venetian Isles from mainland Miami has to cross either the Tuttle or MacArthur causeway and then changes buses and backtrack. And if you want to get to Biscayne Island, you need to walk, bike or take a cab.

In its resolution, the residents association said “recent safety concerns for the Venetian Bridges have great hardship for many Belle Isle residents, commuters and those working on Belle Isle as caregivers, building workers and domestic help.”

The organization asked that the county and Miami Beach replace the buses “at the same intervals, during the same times and in the same route as previously scheduled, using whatever vehicles necessary to safely cross the bridges until regular buses can be returned to service.”

Belle Isle boil water advisory still in place, could end today

Venetian Way still must be repaired at site of water main break.

Venetian Way still must be repaired at site of water main break.

There is still a boil water advisory in effect for some 2000 Belle Isle households Thursday morning, resulting from the water main break that happened Monday around noon.

And Venetian Way still has a gaping hole in front of The Standard, where workers excavated to get to the pipes and make the fix.

The boil water advisory will be lifted once water bacteria tests are clear; that typically takes at least 48 hours after water service is restored. Service was restored at about 9:45 p.m. Monday.

Belle Isle Blog will update as soon as we get the word.

 

M-D Transit announces new Venetian shuttle — with no service from mainland or to Biscayne Island

Miami-Dade Transit says it will provide a modified shuttle service on the Venetian Causeway to replace the service it discontinued because of weight restriction on Venetian bridges.

But if you depended on bus service to get to a Venetian Island from mainland Miami, you’ll have to cross a different causeway to Miami Beach first.

And there will be no bus service from east or west to Biscayne Island, the Venetian Isle closest to the mainland.

The modified service starts Wednesday and will run between 7 and 9:30 a.m. and 2 and 6 p.m. It will run every 30 minutes.

The county says it will NOT resume South Beach Local service to Belle Isle, although it did not explain why.

According to a Miami-Dade press release late Tuesday:

“Route A (101) patrons can board at the regular bus stops located along the Venetian Causeway between N. Venetian Way and NE 12th Place in San Marco Island, on the western end of the modified route, and Meridian Avenue and 17th Street on the eastern end of the route.

“Due to a 5-ton weight limit on the West Venetian Bascule Bridge, the small bus will not be able to travel on the West Venetian Bascule Bridge to go to and from the Omni Bus Terminal.

 

Belle Isle water service restored; boil water order affects 2000 households

Late Monday, city of Miami Beach public works crews fixed the water main break in front of the Standard Hotel on Belle Isle and restored service to  households on the island.

Air conditioners kicked on, but the water from the pipes looked a little brown and not so great. The city announced a precautionary boil water advisory for 2000 households on Belle Isle, in both the high-rise condos and apartments and the small bungalow homes on Farrey Lane and Century Lane.

Typically the boil water order lasts 48 hours, but it won’t be lifted until water samples test clean.

Miami Beach says water should be restored to Belle Isle by midnight

City crews work to restore water service (photo by Miami Beach Twitter account).

City crews work to restore water service (photo by Miami Beach Twitter account).

Crews continue to work on the water main break on Belle Isle, and the city just tweeted that they hope to have service restored by midnight.

Then the 48-hour boil water period would begin. That means with some luck, we’ll be able to shower in the morning, but you might want to brush your teeth with bottled water — and use it for coffee, too.