The Miami Beach City Commission on Wednesday faces a key vote that will determine whether a West Avenue bridge is built over the Collins Canal to connect Sunset Harbour with South Beach.
Commissioners have 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.
The neighborhoods around the proposed bridge — lower West Avenue, Sunset Harbor, lower North Bay Road, Belle Isle, Collins Park — are divided on whether it should be built.
Opponents worry it will lure traffic from overburdened Alton Road to residential neighborhoods.
Proponents say because of growth in the area — particularly in Sunset Harbor — the neighborhoods need a safety valve.
The issue is scheduled for discussion at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Scott Diffenderfer, president of the Belle Isle Residents Association, supports the bridge, but in a Dear Resident letter today conceded flaws in the planning so far:
The strongest arguments against the bridge are 1) that the traffic studies did not incorporate the surrounding neighborhoods, 2) that the building the bridge will add to both local and “cut through” traffic on West Avenue and lower North Bay Road and 3), that a bridge will encourage increased development (particularly “big box” development) in Sunset Harbour. The first argument is very true – traffic studies are not comprehensive and did not go far enough to study the impact on the greater area. But development in the neighborhood has ALREADY occurred and will continue to occur regardless of traffic studies say.
The argument that the bridge will be responsible for bringing additional traffic on West Avenue and lower North Bay Road and increase development in Sunset Harbour ignores the fact that traffic has already increased on both of these roads because of the continuing deteriorating conditions on Alton and the additional development.. The bridge will not create more traffic but will be a tool to manage traffic that already exists and will unfortunately continue to increase along with development.
Residents opposed to the bridge are justifiably angry because of the current lack of traffic calming and enforcement in their neighborhoods. But that should not be an argument against a bridge.
In a previous post on the bridge debate, a dozen people posted arguments for and against the proposal. It’s worth a look.