Miami Beach City Commissioners on Wednesday approved the concept of building a West Avenue bridge over the Collins Canal to provide a direct route from South Beach to Sunset Harbour.
In a 6-1 vote, commissioners decided to exercise an option for property held by the Miami Beach Housing Authority at West Avenue between 17th Street and the Collins Canal. That land provides the path for the bridge crossing.
Their vote backed a recommendation from Florida Department of Transportation consultants for a bridge that includes one northbound lane and two southbound lanes, one for cars turning left on to 17th Street from Sunset Harbour. The recommendation included bike lanes and a separate sidewalk in each direction.
The vote also called for the commission’s Neighborhoods committee to explore the impact of a bridge that included a northbound right turn lane to 17th Street, and traffic calming measures for West Avenue south of Lincoln Road.
Commissioner Jorge Exposito said he supported the bridge but didn’t want to be locked in to the specific configuration supported by planners, and wanted them to explore adding a right turn lane at 17th Street.
Commissioner Jerry Libben voted no. (Note, an earlier version of this post incorrectly said Expositio had voted no).
Planners have said it will be two years before work will start on the bridge, but the commission had to decide on whether to acquire the right-of-way from the Housing Authority by May 2. If they did not act, the Housing Authority had several bidders interested in buying the land for development.
During nearly two hours of discussion, commissioners heard from several West Avenue residents who worried the bridge would attract more traffic and congestion to their neighborhood, as commuters seek to avoid Alton Road.
Supporters of the bridge said the traffic will come with or without the bridge. And residents of Sunset Harbour said with the restaurant and retail boom in their area — and the construction of the new city parking garage — the bridge is a necessity.
“Sunset Harbour is now a destination,” said Frank Kruszewski, a leader in the Sunset Harbour condominium association. “You have to do this when you have the opportunity.”