Activists say upcoming Venetian Causeway bridge closing requires creative solutions to traffic, safety

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

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.


10 responses to “Activists say upcoming Venetian Causeway bridge closing requires creative solutions to traffic, safety

  1. I would think starting a free Ferry service between the Omni and Sunset Harbour Piers every 15 minutes or half our would help tremendously during the bridge closures for pedestrians and bicyclists.

  2. Two suggestions:

    1) finish Alton road project before this is allowed. Each project effects the other.

    2) have water taxi service at different pick up points along Venetian and drop off along west walkway behind flamingo, waverly and further South!

    These projects do have an impact on businesses and folks west side of town and off the beach are already frustrated and not coming to the Beach to shop, eat etc….

  3. enrique escobar

    living on west avenue and not being allowed to renew my commuter pass is not very neighborly. i have been using the pass for years and then kicked off. i guess you forgot your neighbors and fellow citizens in miami beach.

    • Enrique: Just to make you aware, the change in policy on commuter pass availability was made by Miami-Dade County without input from Venetian Way residents.

    • Thanks Enrique for voicing what many of us feel. Perhaps we should charge a toll (or create a long line) for Venetian Island residents to come to Sunset Harbour to eat or shop.

      • enrique escobar

        you would think our city officials would be standing up for the beach residents who are willing to pay the commuter fees and gain usage of the causeway. we should at least been grandfathered in.

    • Maybe we should charge them for the use of our fire and police departments and other first responders. It’s actually ridiculous that MB residents will have to pay a full toll.

      • And Jack Hartog, I’m pretty sure that the bridge reconstruction does not come out of the Venetian Way Alliance Causeway Fund. Those are our tax dollars as homeowners.

  4. To those relatively few residents (cw the rest of Miami Beach) on Venetian Isle, congratulations! You live in one of the most picturesque environs in South Florida. For those of us “just passing through” by car, bike or foot, I believe we have a right to enjoy the beauty of the Venetian Way as much as you.
    By all means, keep traffic flowing at a safe i.e. slow speed, maintain i.e. regularly repaint the designated bike lanes, install a water fountain
    at the west end of the Way so that those on bike or on foot can have a refreshing drink of water. But we already pay almost $2 for the privilege of crossing over (and in this economy that already excludes many from ever enjoying the views along the Way) and whether you like it or not the Venetian Way is a necessary alternate route when there are emergency closures on other Beach routes. Not to mention you make plenty of money at the perennially understaffed toll booths that should help pay for all the necessary and recommended upgrades.
    Personally I jog across the Venetian Way as often as I can (2-4 times a week) and only occasionally drive across. I think the one obvious menace to everyone’s (residents and passersby) peace of mind are the driver’s who ignore the posted speed limit on the Way.
    With increased monitoring I think everyone should be able to continue to enjoy “… the most beautiful way to get vistas of Miami”.

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