With a key decision on whether to build a bridge over the Collins Canal on West Avenue less than four months away, the Florida Department of Transportation has scheduled its next public meeting on the proposal for March 27.
The city of Miami Beach has until May 2 to decide whether to exercise an option for an easement on a small triangle of land owned by the Miami Beach Housing Authority north of 17th Street and the Collins Canal at West Avenue, according to city public works engineer Rick Saltrick.
If the city exercises the option, planning for a bridge connecting Sunset Harbour and the area west of Epicure would move forward. A final decision on whether to build the bridge — and its features, if built — would come later.
But if the city commission doesn’t act on the Housing Authority option, there is no path across the canal, and the project essentially dies right there.
The state DOT held an earlier public forum on the bridge proposal on Nov. 15, in which it presented four options, including building no bridge at all. Many residents who attended the meeting proposed another idea — a bike- and pedestrian-only bridge.
There was much enthusiasm from residents around the no-car bridge, but it looks like it isn’t possible. There is still no mention of it on the project website, which lists the other construction options.
Here is the short description of the project from the site:
The proposed West Avenue Bridge would span the Collins Canal, which is a city-owned manmade canal. Proposed improvements would likely include approximately 110 feet of new roadway and an approximately 55 foot long low-level fixed bridge over the Collins Canal. The bridge would include two northbound and southbound through-lanes and possibly turn lanes as well as bike lanes and sidewalks on each side.
At the Belle Isle Residents Association meeting on Jan. 18, homeowner association president Scott Diffenderfer said residents shouldn’t delude themselves about a bridge that doesn’t carry cars.
The funding that’s in place from state and federal sources is specifically for a road for vehicles. If the city wants a bike-only bridge, it will pay for it on its own, he said.
The March 27 meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Miami Beach Regional Library, 277 22 St.