Category Archives: Venetian Causeway

Miami Beach will ask Coast Guard to close east Venetian drawbridge during construction

Mayor Philip Levine told Venetian Island residents that Miami Beach will ask the Coast Guard to lock down the east Venetian Causeway bridge during the construction of a new west bridge span that will start this fall.

Levine said he and City Manager Jimmy Morales would draft and send the letter, “and I will follow up with the Coast Guard commandant.”

Morales said it is important to get Miami-Dade County to join in on the request, because the county oversees the causeway. Levine and Morales plan to discuss the issue with Mayor Carlos Gimenez, they said.

Because of structural issues with the causeway bridges, Miami-Dade County expects to shut down the westernmost bridge to mainland Miami around November so the bridge span can be torn down and replaced.

It’s expected to be closed for nine months.

Miami and Miami Beach has been working on contingency plans to get rescue vehicles to the islands during the closure.

“For me, its really an emergency situation, if we can’t get to a resident if the bridge is up,” said Commissioner  Micky Steinberg, who scheduled the issue for discussion.

Venetian Island residents Tony Santos and Holly Sukanik Wallack asked the city to send a forceful letter to the Coast Guard.

“Locking down the east bridge ensures we have access for emergency fire and rescue vehicles,” Wallack said, noting that the east bridge was twice stuck in the up position during the last month — once for four hours.

Santos reminded commissioners of a recent death of a Venetian resident who suffered a heart attack and couldn’t be attended to by paramedics because of delays in getting across the drawbridge.

Miami Beach fire officials said that because the city of Miami cannot bring any fire trucks across the bridge. Miami has placed a pumper truck at the 1000 Venetian Way condo for emergency use. Miami could send firefighters to run the truck on pickup trucks until the bridge construction begins, and by boat after.








Sunpass on the Venetian Causeway: transition happens Aug. 29

What Miami-Dade’s causeway folks have been saying would happen for more more than two years is about to become reality: the Venetian Causeway will convert to SunPass for tolls and annual pass use starting Friday, Aug. 29.

That means no one will need to stop at the toll Plaza on Biscayne Island; instead, SunPass will either register their car transponder or bill them toll-by-plate. The county predicts it will reduce the backups at the plaza during busy times.

Even though the county plans to close the easternmost span between Biscayne Island and Miami in the fall for a reconstruction that will take six to nine months, the SunPass conversion is moving forward.

If you are a Venetian annual pass holder (either an island resident or employed on the island) you’ll be getting a form in the mail that will enable you to register your SunPass so you won’t be billed.

You’ll need to provide your transponder number and plate number to link your plan account for the Venetian with your transponder to avoid per-trip fees.

Here’s the notification the county sent to Belle Isle condo managers:

From: Tolls (PWWM) []
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2014 3:03 PM
Cc: Bauman, Mike (PWWM)
Subject: SunPass Update

Dear Venetian Causeway Neighbors,

We are pleased to announce that the transition to SunPass is tentatively scheduled for Friday, August 29, 2014. When the conversion is complete, drivers will have improved travel time and traffic flow across the Causeway. Please be advised that in order to avoid per trip or Toll-By-Plate charges, each motorist must have a SunPass transponder. For annual plan holders, their account will be linked to their SunPass account so that they will not incur any additional charges.

In an effort to keep you informed of the progress:

– A letter has been sent to all current annual plan holders to obtain their SunPass transponder numbers

– All plan holder accounts will be updated with the SunPass transponder data

– Flyers and other informational material will be distributed in the lanes and available at the Venetian Customer Service Center

– Signage announcing the change will be in place–

E-mail address has been established to address questions and concerns

We will provide additional updates as needed.

Thank you,

Causeways Division

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.

Miami-Dade approves $10 million to repair Venetian island bridge to mainland

Miami-Dade County commissioners on Tuesday approved spending $10.1 million on a emergency basis for the design and construction of a replacement bridge for the westernmost bridge span on Venetian Way.

The vote will enable the county to demolish, design and rebuild the the bridge more quickly — and without a competitive bidding process. In a memo to commissioners, Deputy Mayor Alina Hudak said the design phase will take about four months, and the constrcution will take six to nine months.

That means, Venetian Way Neighborhood Alliance Presdient Jack Hartog said in a note to island residents, we’re roughly looking at a construction start in October and completion in some time between April and July 2015.

VWNA will have issues to tackle between now and when the bridge closes for construction, Hartog said.

“We need to work now so that when the bridge is closed we can:

– Ensure emergency and other needed services to the Venetian Islands continue;

– Find viable ways for allowing at least pedestrian and bicyle traffic to get back and forth between the mainland and Biscayne Island;

– Make sure this inconvenience is as short as possible.”

In her memo to commissioners, Hudak said that the structural issues with the bridge was so severe that waiting could mean more reductions in the weight of vehicles permitted to cross the bridge. Now, the weight is limited to 5 tons, restricting bus service to the islands from Miami.

“A delay to commence the necessary construction activities can further impact the existing restrictions to the use of the Bridge Segment, placing a significant and prolonged impact on its users,” Hudak said. “The procurement of the contract is expected to take four (4) months, with actual construction to take six (6) to nine (9) months thereafter, during which time the Bridge Segment would be closed to vehicular traffic. The work, currently estimated at $10,100,000, will consist of the complete demolition of the existing Bridge Segment, and the construction of an entirely new bridge from foundations to bridge deck.

“Once completed, the current five (5) ton weight restriction will be removed and the life expectancy of the entire West Venetian Bascule Bridge will be 60 years.”

Meanwhile, Hartog notes, the Florida Department of Transportation is reviewing how to repair or replace the other 11 bridges that make up the crossing from mainland Miami to Miami Beach.

That study will address ‘viable replacement alternatives, the historic nature of the bridges, public and private stakeholder concerns, environmental impacts and potential costs.” The study will take at least another four to five years, accrdoing to the memo.


Beach commissioners ask Miami-Dade to restore Belle Isle bus service, hours

Miami Beach commissioners unanimously approved resolutions urging improvements in bus service to Belle Isle and the Venetian islands in the wake of cutbacks put in place last month by Miami-Dade Transit.

The cutbacks were triggered by new weight limits on Venetian bridges because of structural weaknesses. But Miami-Dade began using lighter buses on a more limited scheduile this week. Venetian Way residents want a full schedule restored. The commission resolution asked for service between 6:30 a.m. and midnight.

City commissioners agreed at their meeting Wednesday. Commissioners Michael Grieco proposed a resolution that the county resume its normal schedule for the Route A bus, which links Miami and Miami Beach, and it passed unanimously.

Commissioners also unanimously approved a resolution asking the county to ensure easy, practical, and reliable public transportation from Belle Isle to all South Beach destinations. Belle Isle resident Barbara Cowen, who led a petition drive in the wake of the reduced bus service, pushed for the resolution.

Mayor Philip Levine instructed the city’s transportation department to pursue bringing trolley service to Belle Isle.

Stay tuned.

Miami-Dade resumes collecting $24 Venetian Causeway administrative fee

Last Wednesday, on the heels of the news that the Venetian Causeway bridge between mainland Miami and the islands would have to be demolished and rebuilt, the folks who run the roadway made more news:

Miami-Dade’s Causeway Division stopped collecting the $24 administrative fee its long charged Venetian property owners for toll transponders.

That move came a week before the April 30 deadline to pay the fee — and some residents had already paid up.

But on April 23, people were turned away. One of them was Belle Isle resident Steve Neifeld, who showed up at the toll plaza office to pay for two cars registered at his 9 Island Avenue condo.

Causeways Division Chief Mike Bauman explained that the county decided to stop collecting the $24 because of ongoing  litigation over the fee.

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

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

A week later, the direction appears to be: Come back and pay up.

Neifeld got a call from the Causeways office Tuesday afternoon telling him he had to come back and pay the fee. “So much for the free ride,” he said.

Bauman confirmed the fee is again being collected, but would only say: “We are required to follow implementing orders.”

The now-cancelled waiver did not apply to renters on the Venetian Islands, or people who use the C-Pass transponders and work on one of the islands. They pay $90 annual for unlimited trips across the causeway.

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.

Miami Beach Commission to discuss Venetian bus service today

Miami-Dade Transit resumed limited bus service between Miami and Miami Beach over the Venetian Causeway on Monday, but the small buses only operate during a 7 to 9:30 a.m. and 2 to 5:40 p.m. time frame.

And the South Beach Local no longer stops on Belle Isle.

Miami Beach city commissioners are scheduled to discuss the resumption of local bus service to Belle Isle at 5 p.m. at their Wednesday meeting.

Belle Isle transit advocate Barbara Cowen —  who collected more than 500 signatures on a petition to push for resumption of service — will be there. She’s urging others to attend.

Miami-Dade has curtailed bus service to the Venetian Islands since structural issues on the bridges connecting the islands caused engineers to impose new weight limits.

Miami-Dade Transit reopens Venetian Causeway bus link to and from mainland Miami

New Venetian A bus route, shared Sunday

New Venetian A bus route, shared Sunday

The folks with Miami-Dade Transit have resumed limited bus service between the mainland Miami at the Omni terminal and the Venetian Causeway, using lighter buses.

The new schedule, posted on the Miami-Dade Transit website Sunday, starts at 7 a.m. and runs every 35 minutes along Venetian Way and ends at the Publix in Sunset Harbour at 20th Street and Bay Road.

The last morning bus will leave Publix at 9:30 a.m.

Service resumes at 2 p.m. from Omni, again, running every 35 minutes. The last bus in the evening leaves Publix at 6:52 p.m. That means there is no public transportation from Belle Isle east after 6:40 p.m. or west after 6:52 p.m., points our Barbara Cowen, the Belle Isle resident who has led the charge to get service restored.

Traveling to any part of South Beach requires connecting with the South Beach Local either at the Publix or at the stop at Purdy and Dade Boulevard.

This is a seven-day morning and afternoon schedule:

OMNI TERM               BAY RD 20ST

      7:00                                  7:12              

      7:35                                 7:47              

      8:10                                  8:22            

      8:45                                  8:57              

      9:20                                  9:32               


      2:00                                  2:12             

      2:35                                  2:47             

      3:10                                  3:22             

      3:45                                  3:57              

      4:20                                  4:32              


      4:55                                  5:07              

      5:30                                  5:42             

      6:05                                  6:17               

      6:40                                  6:52