FDOT recommends plan for West Avenue bridge, gets divided feedback from neighborhoods

Rendering of park next to proposed West Avenue Bridge

The Florida Department of Transportation and the city of Miami Beach released recommendation for a West Avenue Bridge that would connect Sunset Harbour and West Avenue behind Epicure over the Collins Canal.

Presented at a public hearing Tuesday night at the Miami Beach Regional Library, engineers recommended a crossing with one northbound lane, one southbound lane, a southbound left-turn lane on to 17th Street and  bike-pedestrian lanes in each direction.

Engineers told the crowd of about 80 people that they considered six alternatives during their study, ranging from doing nothing, adding some traffic safety measures without building a bridge, and four different bridge alternatives (with one vehicle lane and one bike lane each way to a five-lane plan (one north plus on a northbound right turn lane, with one southbound lane and two southbound left-turn lanes on to 17th Avenue plus a bike lane in each direction).

(You can find the public hearing presentation here.)

The recommended plan would cost roughly $4.1 million to build, and construction wouldn’t begin until 2013. The proposal still needs approval from the state, the federal government and the Miami Beach City Commission.

And commissioners will hear from affected neighborhoods, which where decidedly divided on whether a bridge should be built at all.

Residents from West Avenue — representing the south end and the area around Lincoln Road — said the bridge would bring too much traffic and would be dangerous to pedestrians.

“This is simply a way of dumping Alton Road traffic on to West Avenue,” said Gayle Durham, head of the West Avenue Homeowners Association. “I didn’t move to West Avenue to have a traffic jam at my front door.”

Homeowners from lower North Bay Road — the neighborhood immediately north of Sunset Harbour — also opposed the plan. They said they fear commuters avoiding Alton Road through Sunset Harbour would continue north on their quiet street of single-family homes.

Michael Hammond, president of the Lower North Bay Road Homeowner Association, said he raised concerns at a hearing in November about overflow traffic in his neighborhood, and engineers said they would address it.

“They have not contacted us, and have taken no additional steps. They are saying 12 percent of traffic will come off Alton Road. That’s 4,000 to 5,000 trips a day down West Avenue, up to the entrance to our street. How many will come to us? They don’t know. You’ve done nothing to address this issue.”

But representatives from Belle Isle and Collins Park said they believe the bridge will ease overall traffic in the area.

Belle Isle Residents Association president Scott Diffenderfer said he was sympathetic to the worries of West Avenue residents, but development  in Sunset Harbour — with the new Fresh Market, restaurants and additional retail and parking in the soon-to-be completed parking garage —  demands the bridge.

“I do believe there is a problem on West Avenue and city has done a horrible job with enforcement,” he said. “But this bridge….is just inevitable. There is too much development without it.’

Former Miami Beach Commissioner Nancy Liebman, a resident of Belle Isle, said her daughter lives in Sunset Harbour and “it’s gridlock” at times there. She said she believes the bridge should be built — and the surrounding neighborhoods should band together to make sure improvements are made to make West Avenue safer and to shelter lower North Bay Road from Alton Road spillover traffic.

“I am very saddened to see that neighborhoods are pitted against neighborhoods,” she said. “


10 responses to “FDOT recommends plan for West Avenue bridge, gets divided feedback from neighborhoods

  1. Lucky Lieberman

    The bridge is a good idea that will benefit everyone. The traffic moves very well on Alton Road north bound once it passes Dade Blvd. So the North Bayers should not feel threatened, and realistically there is no escape route through the new proposed bridge. It is needed so that the west bound traffic to the Venitian Causeway will run much more effienctly than everyone having to turn north at Purdy Avenue into the Sunset Harbor district. The bridge will make it easier to get to Fresh Market, Publix, Office Depot and all the restaurants, Auto repair shops and all the other businesses, even the tow companies.

  2. Richard Silverman

    The West Avenue extension really needs to be built. The traffic on Alton has become overwhelming and at times gridlocked producing pollution and wasting fuel.

  3. Where will the funding for this project come from? thanks

  4. Its time for Miami Beach to enter the 21 century. Not ONLY should this bridge be built, but rapid transit needs to be built across the bay so that people can get to MB without long bus rides or being ripped off by taxi drivers.

    • Kenneth, entering the 21st century means NOT building the bridge. True forward thinking cities around the world are discouraging traffic, not providing more capacity for it. Expanded capacity always gets maximized and more roads inevitably result in more traffic.

      The city’s bridge plan is a lazy, old-fashioned solution. The problem in Miami Beach is too many roads, not too few!

  5. I am much more in favor of the plan to build a pedestrian shopping district over next to the Standard. There are many residents in Belle Isle who do not want to walk over to Sunset Harbor and deal with the traffic there, or drive to Lincoln Road. This will bring up that area next to the Standard that is so run down and help divert some of the shoppers from Sunset Harbor that are causing traffic problems.

  6. There is nothing degrading the human environment more on Miami Beach than automobiles. Do we even need a bridge at all? Between all the parking garages, bridges, road construction, looks like we’re just doubling down on auto-dependcy. We should be striving to make driving the worst possible option, and instead creating healthy, economically stimulating alternatives like bus rapid transit, better pedestrian and bike infrastructure and pedestrian-oriented districts and neighborhoods.

    • Right on cp. Where are all the creative minds in the planning department? Come on, do something really ground-breaking, something worthy of a great destination city. Your bridge is just a lazy, short-sighted cop-out

  7. The Miami Beach Commission will be having a meeting on April 11 in comission chambers to vote on the bridge. please try to attend. meetings start at 9, but they may schedule a specific time slot for this issue. You can call 305.673.7102, (or 7103, 04, 05, 06, 07) depending which commissioner you want to reach. See http://www.miamibeachfl.gov

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

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