Category Archives: Development

Projects proposed on Belle Isle and nearby, including buildings and roads.

Venetian Island homeowners wrangle to keep traffic flowing during bridge construction

How will we get off our islands when construction causes the closure of the westernmost span of Venetian Way, between Biscayne Island and mainland Miami?

Some members of the Venetian Islands Homeowner Association are actively lobbying the keep the easternmost drawbridge locked down during that time, which will begin some time in the fall.

The Miami Herald’s Cristina Veiga has a detailed look at issues.

Venetian could get thorough makeover, FDOT says

Florida Department of Transportation officials held their advertising first meeting on the future of the Venetian Causeway on Wednesday night.

Among the requests — changing the name of the residential link between mainland Miami and Miami Beach from “causeway” to Venetian Way.

Here’s the coverage from the Herald.

 

What’s next for Venetian Causeway? FDOT starts the process Wednesday

We’ve resigned ourselves to the closure of the westernmost Venetian Causeway bridge, expected to begin around September or October so the segment can be rebuilt.

Miami-Dade County last month approved spending $10 million on that project, which they say will take six to nine months. And we know engineering reports say the other Venetian bridges at minimum need repairs, some more significant than others.

We could learn more next week, when the Florida Department of Transportation holds an informational meeting on its Venetian Causeway project development and environmental study.

According to the FDOT press release, “the meeting will provide an introduction to the project and present information regarding the existing conditions and the schedule for the study.”

The meeting happens Wednesday, June 25, at 6 p.m. at the Miami Beach Regional Library, 227 2 St., near the Bass Museum.

There is an FDOT website on the project.

Overdue Dade Boulevard bike path won’t be done for a while

If you bicycle or jog across South Beach, you probably cheered the proposed bike and pedestrian path along Dade Boulevard and the Collins Canal when Miami Beach began work on it two years ago.

And now you think: Will it ever be finished?

The Miami Herald reports that yes, it will get finished. When?

Would you believe 2015?

That’s about two years behind schedule.

For now, there is an asphalt path, no landscaping, and lighting that works along one stretch (between Meridian and Convention Center Drive. Sigh.

FDOT says 17th Street should reopen Saturday

You probably noticed that the roadwork that caused the Florida Department of Transportation to close 17th Street between Alton Road and Alton Court didn’t get finished by the original completion date of May 22.

FDOT now says 17th Street should be open to traffic by Saturday morning.

Construction crews closed 17th Street on May 11 so workers could install underground drainage structures and pipe, and then rebuild the roadway. The work was supposed to be done on Thursday, May 22, before the start of the busy Memorial Day weekend.

But “there were some unforeseen conditions that arose that required the closure to be extended,” project spokeswoman Heather Leslie said. “We were required to replace sections of the city’s existing drainage system and water main immediately west of Alton Road that were found to be in deteriorating condition and in conflict with the roadway.

“Also, there were two days of rain that significantly impacted completion of the drainage operations and construction of the roadway base.”

 

Activists say upcoming Venetian Causeway bridge closing requires creative solutions to traffic, safety

If you haven’t heard by now, Miami-Dade engineers have concluded that the structural problems with the westernmost Venetian Way bridge to Miami mean it will have to be rebuilt.

They estimate that about six months from now, they will begin demolishing the span between the Miami Herald site and the drawbridge. Demolition and reconstruction is expected to take six to nine months, but who knows how long it will really take. We’ve all been through construction projects before.

Obviously, that will make the drive from one of our islands to the Omni area a longer trip, and much more of a hassle. But several of your Venetian Way neighbors say there is opportunity in adversity.

The folks with the West Avenue Neighborhood Alliance (WAVNA)  and Transit Miami have asked for creative suggestions from residents on how to minimize the traffic impact, as well as provide safe alternatives for bicyclists and pedestrians.

You can email WAVNA at westavenuesobe@gmail.com.

Several Venetian Isle Homeowner Association want to appeal to the Coast Guard to lock down the east drawbridge during the construction, so an emergency path will always be open for fire rescue vehicles. It’s an interesting idea, but Miami-Dade representatives say they have asked for bridge opening restrictions, and getting action from the Coast Guard is a painfully slow process.

And in a letter to Venetian Way Neighborhood Alliance members, President Jack Hartog said the upcoming bridge closing presents a chance to reshape how Venetian residents and the community at large views the historic road between Miami and Miami Beach:

“With this current challenge, however, comes opportunity.  When we renamed ourselves Venetian Way (from Venetian Causeway Neighborhood Alliance) at our 2013 annual meeting, we did so to change the perception of Venetian Way (the official name of the street uniting the Venetian Islands). Venetian Way has always run through our residential neighborhoods; it has always been the most beautiful way to get vistas of Miami; it has always been the best (and often the only way) for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-auto enthusiasts to get safely from the beach to the city and vice-versa. 

But over the years, despite the McArthur and Julia Tuttle, many have increasingly perceived Venetian Way as at least a secondary, and for many a primary, motorway to get to and from Miami Beach. Our goal, by renaming our organization, has been to change this perception: public policy should treat Venetian Way not as a motorway between the beach and city, but as a safe sanctuary for all pedestrians, bicyclists, all non-auto enthusiasts to visit and take advantage of Venetian Way’s awesome vistas without constant traffic and accompanying congestion inspiring unsafe conditions. 

And here is the point of this email.  During this period of bridge reconstruction of the far west section of Venetian Way, effectively making it a dead end coming from the beach, Venetian Way will be used for only three purposes: (1) the mode for residents to get on and off the islands; (2) the only manner by which governmental (such as emergency, police, fire, public transit and waste removal) and needed private services have access to residents; and (3) a safe and peaceful street for pedestrian (including joggers and skaters), bicyclists, tourists and others to enjoy the inspiring beauty of our islands and their views. These are the core uses of Venetian Way, not as a motorway between the city and the beach, even after the west bridge is repaired.

  So when that section of the bridge closes, blocking all traffic using Venetian Way as a thruway between city and beach, let’s use this period to embed the real nature of Venetian Way in public consciousness and public policy. 

Ending commuter passes, the recent change to the toll structure, appears to be one such step in this correct direction.  As much as we understand the convenience of Venetian Way for those who live near (a mile or so) from either entrance to Venetian Way as a motorway between the beach and the city, the toll structure should treat them like all other non-residents: use Venetian Way for your walking, running, exercising and bicycling, not as a through street.  And when the new west section of Venetian Way is re-opened in the latter half of 2015, and SunPass fully kicks in at the toll booth, signage and other measures should be implemented that direct and encourage through traffic to use streets meant for through traffic, not Venetian Way.


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.

 

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 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.

Venetian Way neighborhood meeting to focus on Sunpass, bridges issues

vwnaThe Venetian Way Neighborhood Alliance holds its annual meeting on April 22, and the switch to Sunpass for the Venetian tolls and needed repairs to bridges top the agenda.

Mike Bauman, who oversees the causeway for Miami-Dade County, will give an overview of what island residents can expect this summer when toll collection becomes entirely automatic through SunPass, and toll-takers no longer collect cash. Bauman recently gave details about those plans to the blog.

And Miami-Dade Public Works will elaborate on the events that led to the west drawbridge closure and planned repairs to the bridges.

Hartog said that though the county has been planning bridge repairs for some time — they’ve been discussed in previous Venetian Way Neighborhood Alliance meetings as well as Belle Isle Residents Association meetings — an incident last month triggered more urgency.

On March 18, Hartog said, a Metrobus got its tire stuck in a pothole on the westernmost bridge. That led to the patchwork of asphalt and metal that was set in place during the last several weeks, and Wednesday night’s sudden closure for repairs.

By the way, the county heard loud and clear from residents that they deserved more than a day’s notice of the closure plan.

“Thirty hours ahead is just not enough,” Hartog said, noting that some residents don’t open their email immediately. Days would have been more appropriate notice than hours.

The county has “learned their lesson, I hope” on communicating better, he said.

In addition to Bauman, Miami-Dade County engineer Tony Cotarela is expected to speak at the meeting, which happens April 22 at 7 p.m. at 1000 Venetian Way on Biscayne Island.

If you are interested in joining the alliance, here you go. ,Membership form 2014.doc

 

 

There will also be a discussion of security concerns (there have been more burglaries on DiLido in the last week) and beautification efforts on the islands.