Tag Archives: Venetian Causeway

Venetian water lines repaired; boil water order in effect until Friday.

Residents of Rivo Alto, DiLido, San Marino, Palm and Hibiscus islands are under a precautionary boil water order until Friday as result of damaged caused by a Venetian Causeway construction crew.

The boil water order does not include Belle Isle.

The water line was repaired early Wednesday after being damaged on Tuesday and disrupting water service.

Venetian island residents howl at Miami Beach when cars get towed from their neighborhood

On Saturday, the tow trucks rolled to Rivo Alto and DiLido islands on the Venetian Causeway, at the orders of the city of Miami Beach.

They towed more than a dozen cars.

Some belonged to island homeowners. Some belonged to their friends. Some belonged to workers with jobs at one of the homes.

Here’s an account from Rivo Alto resident Tony Santos:

“A complaint was sent in by someone on Rivo Alto that there were cars parked on the pavement in front of homes.  Based on that complaint, MB Parking Enforcement came out and ticketed and towed cars parked on the city streets on Rivo Alto.

“I stopped them from towing my wife’s car this morning because I heard a terribly loud noise of a truck in front of my home for a little while; otherwise there was no warning of any kind at any time.  The MB Parking Enforcement officer confirmed that to me as well.  While she was very professional (and I have to admit that given the fact I rousted out of bed, I was not taking too kindly to the situation), she stood by her orders.  Upon promising to move the vehicle, I placed it in neighbor’s driveway.”

By the count of some residents, the city had at least seven cars towed from the front of homes on DiLido Island, in addition to cars ticketed and towed from Rivo Alto.

The action created a furor on the islands during the weekend, and demands that Miami Beach city hall back off.

The issue, according to Venetian Island Homeowner Association president Greg Carney, is the city classifies the tiny streets on the three city Venetian islands — Rivo Alto, DiLido and San Marino — to be highways. And ordinances say “that vehicles cannot be parked in the travel lanes of HIGHWAYS,” Carney said in a letter to homeowners.

“The idea is twofold as I understand the Parking Department’s or CIty Attorney Office’s interpretation,” Carney wrote. “First, you don’t want cars being parked to create a hazard.  The idea here is if cars are parked in travel lanes on major through streets like Alton Road or the Venetian Causeway, fast moving traffic will be forced into the path of oncoming fast moving traffic, which creates an obvious safety issue.
“Second, vehicles should not be parked in such a way as to force pedestrians out into fast moving traffic for obvious safety reasons.
“In addition, there is another requirement that there be enough of a travel lane maintained on any public street whether HIGHWAY or not that emergency vehicles (e.g., police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, etc) be able to get by without hinderance for obvious reasons.”
Of course, the roads on the Venetian Islands do not function as thoroughfares like Alton Road or the Venetian Causeway.
One resident, who has lived on the island for 18 years, posted this note on a message board:
I got a ticket 4 months ago for parking in front of my house but not in my driveway.  I had no room because maids, maintenance, pool guy, etc. were there.  This is a problem and should be addressed.  We should be able to park near our homes…. there is no where to go.  There needs to be a way to handle all of this!
Carney said the city ought to apply some logic to its enforcement.
“The only rational solution, as I  have discussed with the City on a number of occasions, is to have the City interpret that the ordinance does not apply to non-HIGHWAYS and to deem our streets not to be HIGHWAYS,” Carney said.
“I strongly urge them to get this resolved once and for all: it seems as if it should be easy – modify the official interpretation of the ordinance and tell Parking to leave the residents alone.  I think it highly unlikely that the county or the State will come after the city for how it enforces parking on local city streets even if the county or state thinks our streets are HIGHWAYS.  Cut the residents some slack.”
He called on island residents to contact the city manager and their commissioners “to express frustration over this issue.  It sure has frustrated me.”

The scene from Belle Isle: ING Miami Marathon 2012 a celebration of energy and effort

Volunteers from FIU hydrate the runners as thousads cross the bridge to Belle Isle.

Fast or plodding, amid splashes of clear water and green Gatorade, the 25,000 runners in Sunday’s 10th ING Miami Marathon brought cheers and energy as they crossed Belle Isle and the Venetian Causeway.

Volunteers prepare for a city of runners in the ING Miami marathon

The race ended up with the closest finish in marathon history. But the story on Belle Isle was the achievement of all the mid-pack runners, the folks who trained to prove something to themselves, to make a statement for a loved one, to raise money for a cause.

Eager volunteers from Florida International University staffed the Belle Isle water station before 5 a.m. to fill cups with Gatorade and water while preparing energy snacks for the runners.

One of the first wheelchair runners reaches Belle Isle.

The first wheelchair competitors crossed the island at about 6:25 a.m. (after a 6 a.m. start); the first runner reached Belle Isle at just before 7 a.m., about 41 minutes after the elite runners got going.

The first of the elite runners reaches Belle Isle in under 41 minutes.

Just as the sun began to rise, a bank of clouds blocked the sun, great news for the runners. It was a little warmer than most of them wanted, but overcast skies kept temperatures down for a good portion of the run.

The elite runners just fly by. It's a blur!

As usual, the race brought out some inventive running apparel.

Elvis was running about a 7:10 pace.

Dennis "Coatman" Marsella always makes the marathon.

And this tutu is a little too-too.

Lady Liberty?

The crowd cheering them along included friends, family, passersby and Belle Isle residents who just got out early to be a part of the event. Although the race causes disruption for a few hours on Sunday morning, it showcases all the Venetian Islands as the runners head from Miami Beach back to the city of Miami.

We also saw a good number of pets out to cheer the runners.

Mile 8 seems a little early to be out of breath.

Watching the race -- and not watching the race.

As usual, the horde of runners left bushels of crushed cups in its wake. But with almost military precision, race organizers cleared the route within hours of the last runner’s footfall.

Here’s a gallery of other great moments. We have more than 100 photos of groups of runners. Maybe you are in there!

Get ready! The ING Marathon is heading for the Venetian islands

We begin the one-week countdown to the ING Miami Marathon.

A week from now, thousands of runners — as many as 25,000 based on the record number of registrants — will be crossing Belle Isle on Venetian Way on Mile 8 of their 13.1 or 26.2 mile journey.

It’s a great event that showcases our islands.

The event brings money and visitors to the community, and the group that runs it works hard to ensure it isn’t too disruptive on Sunday morning.

Whitney Murphy, the event manager, made a point of attending last week’s Belle Isle Residents Association meeting to hear from residents and assure them the island will be cleaned up and cleared as quickly as possible. She also said noise — which was a problem a couple of marathons back — will be kept to a minimum.

Belle Isle Blog thinks the good from the marathon vastly outweighs the hassle, and offers these tips to prepare for Sunday morning, Jan. 29:

– Get out and cheer the runners. The leaders will pass our island around 6:30 a.m., and we’ll see people who have trained for months crossing until 9:30 or 10 a.m. They range from elite athletes to average folks who committed to goal and are on their way to achieving it. Your cheers will help lift them to success.

– Plan your morning around the race. From about 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., you’ll only be able to go east on Venetian Way by car, and quite slowly. If you want to go to breakfast, you might want to walk. That way, you can cheer the runners as you go along. IF you HAVE to go to the mainland in the morning, plan to ease your way east on Venetian Way, then south on West Avenue, and east on the MacArthur Causeway, where westbound lanes will be open.

There are several key water stations on the Venetian Causeway leg of the route, one on Belle Isle (mile 8),  San Marco Island (mile 9) and Biscayne Island (Mile 10)

Enjoy the race . Belle Isle Blog will be taking photos of the runners from our island, and promises to post them on the site as early as possible Sunday morning.

Venetian Causeway construction drags til June; here comes the ING marathon

Smoothing out the roadway on DiLido Island.

Work on the slow-moving, back-jarring, pothole-filled obstacle course we know as the Venetian Causeway is a good six months behind schedule, and th e current phase won’t finish the end of June, Belle Isle residents learned Wednesday night.

And the construction happening right now — a scramble of road surfacing and barrier moving — is preparation to make the Venetian safe for the 25,000 runners who will cross it during the ING Miami Marathon on Jan. 29.

“They are cleaning up for the ING Marathon,” said Richard Saltrick, a city of Miami Beach Public Works Department engineer who briefed the Belle Isle Residents Association on progress on the myriad road and bridge projects on and near the island. “They are doing milling and surfacing on DiLido and Rivo Alto,  safe-ing up” for the race.

The causeway construction was supposed to be complete by now — well before the annual marathon needed a clear path.

“It’s a mess,” acknowledged Whitney Murphy, event manager for US Road Sports, which stages the annual race. Her organization expects a record 25,000 runners for this year’s marathon and half-marathon, about 3,000 more than last year. No matter the distance, all runners cross the Venetian.

“There is a lot of construction,” she said, and joked: “I’m getting gray hair at 26.” She said the marathon organizers are “working with the county and the city and they are going to smooth out the road for the runners and wheel chairs.”

Saltrick said Miami Beach has been told current construction on the Venetian — a Miami-Dade Public Works project that includes wider sidewalks and lighting and drainage — should be done by the end of June.

In August, Saltrick said, the city of Miami Beach will begin work on drainage, sidewalk, lighting and drainage projects on the side streets of the Venetian Islands of Rivo Alto, DiLido and San Marino — the so-called Streetscape Project.

An August start of that work allows for the possibility of a little more delay in the current Miami-Dade project, Saltrick said. The Streetscape work will last another year.

And those are just two of many projects in the starting or planning phase that impact Belle Isle and the Venetian Causeway. Residents received updates on several others:

The mixed-use path along the Collins Canal. Eastbound Dade Boulevard closed past Purdy Avenue on Tuesday as work on this project began. It will stay closed for less than a month, from the Dade-17th Street split to Alton Road.  The detour requires taking 17th Street to Alton.

The overall project — which includes seawall replacement and the construction of a landscaped sidewalk north of the Collins Canal along Dade Boulevard for bikers, runners, walkers and strollers — should be complete by July, Saltrick said.

The proposed West Avenue Bridge. The city of Miami Beach is studying whether to build a bridge over the Collins Canal that would connect West Avenue behind Epicure with the Sunset Harbour neighborhood. The next neighborhood meeting will be in February, Saltrick said. If the Miami Beach City Commission decides to build a bridge, it would take two to three years of planning and engineering work before construction would begin, he said.

Reconstruction of the Venetian Causeway bridges. The 12 historic bridges that make up our Venetian Causeway are crumbling in places, and make need extensive repairs or replacement. They were last redone a dozen years ago, after a lengthy battle to ensure their architectural features were preserved.

The Florida Department of Transportation is seeking bids from consultants who will determine the extent of work needed on the bridges, said Herb Frank, a Belle Isle Residents Association board member who attended an FDOT meeting on the bridges on Wednesday. A consultant could be chosen at a follow-up meeting in April. He said the consultant study would take about three years, to actual work is a long way off — if it happens at all.

Residents Association Scott Diffenderfer said the organization is staying on top of the project to make sure whatever eventually happens preserves the historic bridges.

Old views of Belle Isle, Venetian islands seen a new way

Postcard between 1942 and 1951, showing downtown Miami and Venetian and MacArthur causeways.

As part of our continuing exploration of Belle Isle and Venetian Causeway historical images, we found a treasure.

It’s called the Florida Memory Project, a state of Florida archive that includes a collection of 170,000 digitized photos of the state’s early times from the Florida Division of Library and Information Services.

The archive includes beautiful old color postcards, like the one above, which we had not seen before, as well as photos that provide an even closer look at early Belle Isle (pre-condo) and the construction and development of the Venetian Islands and Miami Beach.

This 1949 photograph provides a similar detail as the postcard from east to west.

In the archive we found the clearest pre-condo development photos we’ve ever seen of Belle Isle, the only Venetian Causeway island that isn’t entirely man-made.

Belle Isle, with Carl Fisher's Flamingo Hotel in the background.

This 1930s early photo of the island shows both the Joseph Adams estate  on the land now occupied by Belle Plaza and the Grand Venetian, as well as the J.C. Penney Estate (9 Island Avenue) and relatively empty space on the site of The Standard/DiLido Spa.

The photos of the Joseph H. Adams Estate (dated 1929) are new to us; it covered the southeast quadrant of the island with several structures. You can see how the Bay Road area south of the Collins Canal looked as well.

The Adams estate on the east end of Belle Isle. What is now Maurice Gibb park and Sunset Harbour is behind it.

Subsequent shots show how the development filled in the green space. The old Flamingo on the mainland has been replaced by Morton Towers.

A similar view shows Belle Plaza, Belle Tower and 3 Island Terrace (1968).

On the Beach mainland, Morton Towers, the Venetian, Sunset Islands to the north.

And the view to Miami Beach looked different, too. No Sunset Harbour bayfront condos, though thanks to historic preservation, the beachfront skyline is similar.

Looking east over Belle Isle, you can see the old hotel on the Grand Venetian site.

The archive also includes some great images of the causeway islands and mainland Miami, pre-boom.

One, during the construction of the Venetian Causeway in 1923, shows Belle Isle and and freshly dredged Rivo Alto Isle, with no other islands along the causeway. You can see Lincoln Road and the old Miami Beach golf course, but note, that isn’t the Miami Beach Bayshore Course that exists today.

1923 photograph shows view to Miami across Venetian Causeway.

Another shows Biscayne Island, the closest to mainland Miami, with an airport on what is now the site of the 801 Venetian condo. To the right of the Viking hangar, you can see the original toll booth.

This photo, believed to be from 1926, shows the Venetian Causeway and Biscayne Island.

And, finally, a look at both causeways and freshly dredged Venetian and Sunset islands from a 1927 aerial, shot from a height of 7000 feet. You can see downtown Miami and the mouth of the Miami River, but no Port of Miami.

Note the similarity in perspective to the 1940s-vintage color postcard.

Biscayne Bay, 1927.

A look at the bike path upgrade

Before and after rending of bike path east of Purdy.

With construction starting next week, we finally got our hands on some renderings of the mix-use path planned for the Collins Canal-Dade Boulevard corridor.

It looks a little less exciting than described (I’m not sure what they mean by “elevated” in the written descriptions) but it definitely will provide a safe path for walking and running and biking and strollering.

Some blog commenters anticipated something like the HiLine in New York City; if that’s your expectation, this is a big disappointment. But if you want a way to run to the beach without taking your life in your hands this will work nicely.

Here's the stretch where landscaping was an issue.

The second rendering highlights the before and after view along Dade Boulevard across from Publix, where tree activists complained landscaping was inadequate. You can see there is little but scrub there now.

But in other areas, the plan calls for some really nice landscaping, as the last rendering shows. Thanks to the city of Miami Beach for providing these to share.

Before and after of mixed-use path near Meridian.

Venetian Causeway will be converting to Sun Pass

By fall, toll collection on the Venetian Causeway will convert to Sun Pass, and island residents will be turning in their C Pass transponders.

Miami-Dade County’s Causeway Division — which oversees tolls on the Venetian and Rickenbacker causeways — is making the change on the Rickenbacker first, said Michael Bauman, causeways division chief for Miami-Dade Public Works.

Bauman says his best guess is the Rickenbacker transition will happen in June or July, and the Venetian change-over will take place around October.

As residents of the Venetian islands know, if you live on the causeway, you can purchase a C Pass transponder and pay $24 a year to cross the Venetian Causeway. If you don’t live on the island, the annual fee is $90. Without a transponder, it costs $1.50 every time a car crosses the toll booth on the west end of Biscayne Island.

After the conversion to Sun Pass, Venetian residents will still pay the $24 annual fee. There is no increase in tolls planned.

C Pass owners must renew their pass each May, and this year will be no different.  During the summer, the county will begin an informational campaign on the change to Sun Pass, Bauman said.

“You’ll renew as normal,” he said. “When we get closer, we’ll advise everyone with an active account about the changes.”

The county will hold meetings with causeway homeowner groups and also have representatives  visit condos on Biscayne and Belle Isle to give residents the opportunity to turn in their C Pass transponders have their Sun Pass converted to work  at the causeway toll booth.

After the transition, the county will continue to maintain one toll booth lane east and west for drivers paying cash, but the Sun Pass devices will work on all lanes.

It should enable smoother traffic flow, Bauman said, but the county still wants the toll plaza to serve as a “calming” influence to ensure the causeway doesn’t become a speedway.

It’s a road that has lots of bicycle and foot traffic, in addition to being completely residential.

“It’s important that we don’t turn it into a throughway,” Bauman said.

In addition to no longer needing two transponders, the new system will allow people to renew and pay their annual fee online, without having to mail in paper work to prove residency, Bauman said.

Double Rainbow (!!) over Belle Isle

From 9 Island Avenue, looking west to Rivo Alto and mainland Miami. (Herb Frank)

I know, I know, this didn’t happen today or yesterday. But it seemed right to start this peaceful holiday with a lovely image from our island.

Thanks to neighbor Herb Frank for capturing and sharing.

Another DiLido Island burglary alarms Venetian Causeway residents

Venetian Island Homeowner Association leaders are alerting island residents of another burglary on DiLido Island, the fifth in the last two months.

This one happened Wednesday night. A homeowner returning from work discovered their home had been entered through a living room window. Electronics, jewelry and a bicycle was taken.

In November, the homeowner association complained of four burglaries on DiLido.

The homeowner said Miami Beach Police responded quickly on Wednesday. That doesn’t seem to be enough, said Eleanor Carney, wife of Venetian Islands Homeowner Association president Greg Carney,  in an email to island residents on Thursday.

“I am glad to hear that MBPD responded well, but I have to agree that evidently their current efforts are not sufficient,” she wrote. “We heard of another incident within the last few days on DiLido  involving an older couple where a team of crooks tried to con their way into their home. Thank goodness nothing happened there.

The homeower group is asking Miami Beach to provide “additional help in dealing with what appears to be an escalating situation on our islands despite the extra efforts the police are expending.”