If you haven’t heard by now, Miami-Dade engineers have concluded that the structural problems with the westernmost Venetian Way bridge to Miami mean it will have to be rebuilt.
They estimate that about six months from now, they will begin demolishing the span between the Miami Herald site and the drawbridge. Demolition and reconstruction is expected to take six to nine months, but who knows how long it will really take. We’ve all been through construction projects before.
Obviously, that will make the drive from one of our islands to the Omni area a longer trip, and much more of a hassle. But several of your Venetian Way neighbors say there is opportunity in adversity.
The folks with the West Avenue Neighborhood Alliance (WAVNA) and Transit Miami have asked for creative suggestions from residents on how to minimize the traffic impact, as well as provide safe alternatives for bicyclists and pedestrians.
You can email WAVNA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several Venetian Isle Homeowner Association want to appeal to the Coast Guard to lock down the east drawbridge during the construction, so an emergency path will always be open for fire rescue vehicles. It’s an interesting idea, but Miami-Dade representatives say they have asked for bridge opening restrictions, and getting action from the Coast Guard is a painfully slow process.
And in a letter to Venetian Way Neighborhood Alliance members, President Jack Hartog said the upcoming bridge closing presents a chance to reshape how Venetian residents and the community at large views the historic road between Miami and Miami Beach:
“With this current challenge, however, comes opportunity. When we renamed ourselves Venetian Way (from Venetian Causeway Neighborhood Alliance) at our 2013 annual meeting, we did so to change the perception of Venetian Way (the official name of the street uniting the Venetian Islands). Venetian Way has always run through our residential neighborhoods; it has always been the most beautiful way to get vistas of Miami; it has always been the best (and often the only way) for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-auto enthusiasts to get safely from the beach to the city and vice-versa.
But over the years, despite the McArthur and Julia Tuttle, many have increasingly perceived Venetian Way as at least a secondary, and for many a primary, motorway to get to and from Miami Beach. Our goal, by renaming our organization, has been to change this perception: public policy should treat Venetian Way not as a motorway between the beach and city, but as a safe sanctuary for all pedestrians, bicyclists, all non-auto enthusiasts to visit and take advantage of Venetian Way’s awesome vistas without constant traffic and accompanying congestion inspiring unsafe conditions.
And here is the point of this email. During this period of bridge reconstruction of the far west section of Venetian Way, effectively making it a dead end coming from the beach, Venetian Way will be used for only three purposes: (1) the mode for residents to get on and off the islands; (2) the only manner by which governmental (such as emergency, police, fire, public transit and waste removal) and needed private services have access to residents; and (3) a safe and peaceful street for pedestrian (including joggers and skaters), bicyclists, tourists and others to enjoy the inspiring beauty of our islands and their views. These are the core uses of Venetian Way, not as a motorway between the city and the beach, even after the west bridge is repaired.
So when that section of the bridge closes, blocking all traffic using Venetian Way as a thruway between city and beach, let’s use this period to embed the real nature of Venetian Way in public consciousness and public policy.
Ending commuter passes, the recent change to the toll structure, appears to be one such step in this correct direction. As much as we understand the convenience of Venetian Way for those who live near (a mile or so) from either entrance to Venetian Way as a motorway between the beach and the city, the toll structure should treat them like all other non-residents: use Venetian Way for your walking, running, exercising and bicycling, not as a through street. And when the new west section of Venetian Way is re-opened in the latter half of 2015, and SunPass fully kicks in at the toll booth, signage and other measures should be implemented that direct and encourage through traffic to use streets meant for through traffic, not Venetian Way.