If you live on Belle Isle or any of the Venetian Causeway islands, you know that construction has turned our tranquil roadways into a frightening obstacle course.
But we’re in this mess for a good outcome: wider sidewalks, new lighting, classy paved crosswalks, etc. And the construction will end — sometime next year. Right?
We’ll see. Even as we endure this round of construction — which includes rehab work on the 12 bridges between mainland Miami and Miami Beach — Miami-Dade County and the Florida Department of Transportation are moving to spend $1.75 million on a new engineering study.
From a resolution the Miami-Dade Commission approved on July 7:
“The Venetian Causeway links between the cities of Miami and Miami Beach with the mainland, and provides access to all of the residents of the islands from both cities. Over the last 75 years, the Venetian Causeway has undergone extreme environmental effects resulting in widespread deficiencies to the 12 bridges that comprise the Causeway. Repairs are currently being performed through a rehabilitation contract to restore the bridges to their original load carrying capacity and to enable the continued safe operation of the Causeway. However, it is anticipated that life expectancy of this work is approximately 10 years once rehabilitations are completed. To address the need for a long-term resolution of the rapid deterioration of the existing structures, additional sources such as federal funding will be necessary. After discussions with representatives from FDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, PWD was informed that a PD&E Study for the rehabilitation and/or replacement of the 12 existing bridges was required in order to have the project’s construction be eligible to receive federal funding. “
It’s worth noting that in 1989, Venetian Causeway homeowners and preservationists successfully fought to ensure that the historic bridges were restored, not destroyed and replaced, when the causeway was declared an historic landmark. The Venetian reopened to traffic on Aug. 31, 1999, after a $29 million restoration project.
The Venetian was built in 1925, replacing the old Collins Bridge, built in 1913 by John Collins and Carl Fisher, the first crossing to Miami Beach.The Collins Bridge crossed just one island between the mainland and the Beach — Bull Island, now known as Belle Isle.
During the land boom of the 1920s, the other Venetian Islands were dredged, and the Collins Bridge was rebuilt and renamed the Venetian.