As West Avenue Bridge meeting approaches, who supports what?

The Florida Department of Transportation and the city of Miami Beach hold another public meeting Tuesday on the proposal to build a West Avenue bridge over the Collins Canal.

Sentiment in the neighborhoods around the West Avenue path — from Belle Isle and Venetian Islands to Sunset Harbour, lower West Avenue and North Bay Road — is divided.

“One neighborhood’s solution becomes another neighborhood’s problem,” said Gayle Durham, of the West Avenue Neighborhood Association, which represents West Avenue residents south of Lincoln Road and opposes the bridge.

The engineers studying bridge options say there are several, ranging from building no bridge at all to a bridge with two traffic lanes in each direction and bike lanes and sidewalks.

The four bridge alternatives, from two lines to five.

The city and the FDOT have held several neighborhood meetings, as well as  “stakeholder” meetings with businesses in the area. Support among businesses  is much clearer and for good reason — as Sunset Harbour becomes a bigger destination, with many more businesses soon to come with the new city parking garage, they want the neighborhood to be easier to reach.

The Belle Isle Residents Association has come out in support of the bridge that supports pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle access, says BIRA president Scott Diffenderfer.

“Recent development in Sunset Harbour has caused traffic patterns and increased volume that hinders traffic flow in that neighborhood as well as on Venetian Way and 17th Street, main thoroughfares in the area,” he said in a note to Belle Isle residents.  “Additional development is already approved in the area and the City will be relocating well over 100 city vehicles to the garage currently under construction, adding to the gridlock.  In addition, there is currently no easy way for pedestrians, bicycle and automobile traffic to access the neighborhood from the south.”

In Sunset Harbour, residents certainly disagree. Some, in the highrise condos, think the new bridge will shift traffic from Purdy to West Avenue, and that will be better for the neighborhood.

And a goal of the bridge is to smooth out traffic on Alton Road, though some residents dispute how well that will work.

“According to the city’s West Ave Bridge Traffic Report, a bridge will increase traffic on West Avenue by 10 to 25 percent, while alleviating traffic on Alton Rd by 10 percent,” Durham said said.

Others worry it will flood the entire neighborhood with traffic, and should not be built. This is a theme of Sunset Harbour townhouse residents, who live where West Avenue dead-ends near Publix.

That’s the opinion of Marilyn Freundlich, a townhouse resident who emailed a group of neighborhood activists warning the bridge will make Sunset Harbour a destination, and the next thing you know, you’ll have a Home Depot at your doorstep.

“The disadvantages to having a bridge outweigh the advantages.  For example, the bridge will be used by people who have no business coming into Sunset Harbour just to bypass the traffic on Alton Road.  They will cross the bridge, go through our entire neighborhood bringing traffic, congestion, pollution and noise, and exit on 20th Street East to join Alton Road, or worse, continue on South Bay Road and join Alton Road at the Mount Sinai Bridge, also intruding into that strictly residential neighborhood.”

Some North Bay Road residents have said they support the bridge — if access to North Bay Road is limited from the south, so it doesn’t become an Alton Road bypass as well.

Residents in the Lincoln-West Residents Association also worry about the bridge turning West Avenue into a speedway — especially at the corner of West Avenue and 17th Street.

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. (formal presentation at 6:15 p.m.) at the Miami Beach Regional Library, 227  22 St.

What do you think about the bridge? Post your comments.


15 responses to “As West Avenue Bridge meeting approaches, who supports what?

  1. Paul Sasseville

    The bridge is a great idea, and overdue. The traffic and development are already here. The bridge will help sort it out and manage traffic flow. The days of Miami Beach as a quiet winter haven are over. We have to address the reality, not the fantasy.

  2. I have sat at the traffic light turning left from West on to 17th St countless times wondering why there was no bridge… is especially aggrivating when it is plain to see the simplicity of it and need for it

    • If the bridge is built, there is still going to be a traffic light at the exact same spot. And you will have to sit longer at the light because there will be 4 lanes of on coming traffic coming off the bridge that did not exist beforehand.

  3. almost nothing on the beach is ever finished on time. often things have to be redone.even if the bridge is a good idea, it’s construction means years of traffic jams and other problems.

  4. West Avenue has already become an artery by people trying to bypass Alton – despite it being almost entirely residential you have nutcases driving 50+ mph and I have never seen any traffic enforcement. Most vehicles don’t even slow down when there are people in the crosswalks on West. Any plan that would encourage more cars on West anywhere between 5th and 18th is a bad plan.

  5. I definitely support it. It makes sense. It’s annoying to go around especially for bike riders. It will be much safer being able to avoid Alton. That area is definitely growing over there. With Fresh Market, South Beach Tow TV show and all the new businesses (the funeral home being redone) it’s great they’re addressing the traffic before it becomes a big nuisance. Out with the old people (residents) and in with the new!!

    • 10,000 permanent residents live along West Ave.

      On the other hand, Alton Rd is meant to be a high volume commercial traffic corridor. If the intention is to alleviate traffic on Alton then add more lanes on Alton and add another lane on the flyover.

      You will find support for a bicycle/footpath over the canal.

      • Permanent resident???
        You don’t even have your car registered or insured in Florida Gayle!
        Let’s be honest…

  6. So why not build the bridge and use traffic calming to discourage people going through the residential neighborhoods? In the process, open up the path for West Ave. residents to safely walk to Publix. You want a gated community, move to Doral or west Kendall! Traffic calming and pedestrianization has successfully been done in many South Florida cities, why not Miami Beach?

  7. This will ruin the lower part of west ave. This is a residential area. Already cars are not stopping for pedestrian in cross walk asbthey are speeding to bypass alton. If you have to fix Alton, just remove the parking lanes. West ave should a
    So remove parking on one side and take that lane to create a bike path.

    Miami beach need to redefine what pedestrian friendly means. Slow down the cars. Move the cars from Miami off the residential roads. Move the bike off the sidewalk.

    It has been done. Go check montreal, Toulouse, etc.

  8. jamesbrowninmiami

    I don’t think a bridge will help.The beach is over built and can’t control the events and crowds it keeps adding. I lived on West Ave for 16 years until I moved last July (to midtown) after I felt like a resident being held hostage. Just wait until everyone finds out about the giant outlet mall planned for opening in 2013 on West Avenue between 8th and 5th, You think traffic is bad on Alton and West now,,,,,,?.

  9. One day soon there will be total grid-lock on the ‘Beach. All vehicular traffic will be stuck in place for days on end with no hope of moving.

  10. Don't Dump on South Beach with your mall.

    NO TO THE BRIDGE! At least until the city properly utilizes the transportation corridors that exist.Traffic and parking laws need to be enforced and existing traffic patters improved.A three year old should know that if a truck blocks a lane of traffic when making a delivery, the traffic will back up.It is dangerous to both pedestrians and bicyclists.AND IT IS ILLEGAL!You can find the statute here: someone share this with the CMB Police department .It is a moving violation to block a lane of traffic,including the left turn lane: “Upon a roadway which is divided into three lanes and provides for two-way movement of traffic, a vehicle shall not be driven in the center lane…” This happens all the time now on West Ave because of deliveries to the Mondrian.They also back up the trucks onto an extremely narrow loading ramp,but that stops the traffic on West for 2 or 3 minutes at a time.Clearly that is not helping traffic.So how about first getting the trucks out of the left turn lanes and enforce no parking in loading zones. Get rid of the left turn lanes and make West only for southbound traffic and Alton for north. This way the traffic won’t go onto North Bay and will be easier to control on the south end.There are other answers besides spending $4M.And most importantly, DO NOT LET THE MALL BE BUILT. If it is, well, as someone said earlier,why don’t you move to Doral?

  11. Having attended all the public and some association meetings, I can tell you that most of those in favor of the bridge will experience none of the headaches, but will enjoy all of the benefits. You know who you are Sunset Harbor. Of course it is no secret that commercial interest in the neighborhood are pushing for access to an area not in the slightest bit suitable for their needs. I mean, we have two large supermarkets on the same darn block! What planning genius signed off on that project?

    The bridge will, by the planner’s own study, lead to additional congestion in areas around, but not on, Alton Road, but will allow easier egress from the Sunset Harbor neighborhood – by diverting traffic into the West Avenue neighborhood. West Avenue is a residential street, not a commercial thoroughfare. It is dangerous enough with the current level of traffic and inadequate policing and crossing facilities. The bridge will make it worse and I have seen no reasonable argument presented to the contrary. Why can’t the city/county do some actual smart rethinking of current traffic ways – how about a one-way system to keep things moving? – it works in other cities. Another thing; why oh why does a beach town like our insist on putting cars before pedestrians? It is ruining our community and turns what could be a truly first class, forward thinking city into just another messy, dirty, noisy, and pedestrian-unfriendly beach town.

    While we are at it, simply enforcing current traffic laws will make the beach a better city AND might just solve some traffic headaches too – red light runners, intersection blockers, double parkers, illegal delivery stops, are the real cause of congestion. With the money you’d spend on the bridge you could hire several new traffic cops and raise much needed revenue through the thousands of citations they could issue every single day.

    A side-note to visitors in Miami Beach: it is the LAW that you come to a complete stop before turning right at a stop sign or red light, so beep your horns all you like, but I’ll be stopping and making you behind me stop too!

    For crying our loud planners, BE BOLD, do something truly inspired. Building a bridge just because you have the money and are too lazy to take inspired alternative action is inexcusable. Pouring more concrete is not the answer to this city’s problems. Allowing for more cars is the exact opposite of the way you should be thinking – we need to DIScourage car use, not make it easier to get about in them. Build this bridge and a few years down the line you’ll be building another just to handle the additional capacity your first bridge encouraged!

    No more lazy, uninspired city and county projects – NO BRIDGE.

  12. Pingback: Miami Beach faces key West Avenue bridge vote Wednesday | Belle Isle Blog

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