Mayor Philip Levine told Venetian Island residents that Miami Beach will ask the Coast Guard to lock down the east Venetian Causeway bridge during the construction of a new west bridge span that will start this fall.
Levine said he and City Manager Jimmy Morales would draft and send the letter, “and I will follow up with the Coast Guard commandant.”
Morales said it is important to get Miami-Dade County to join in on the request, because the county oversees the causeway. Levine and Morales plan to discuss the issue with Mayor Carlos Gimenez, they said.
Because of structural issues with the causeway bridges, Miami-Dade County expects to shut down the westernmost bridge to mainland Miami around November so the bridge span can be torn down and replaced.
It’s expected to be closed for nine months.
Miami and Miami Beach has been working on contingency plans to get rescue vehicles to the islands during the closure.
“For me, its really an emergency situation, if we can’t get to a resident if the bridge is up,” said Commissioner Micky Steinberg, who scheduled the issue for discussion.
Venetian Island residents Tony Santos and Holly Sukanik Wallack asked the city to send a forceful letter to the Coast Guard.
“Locking down the east bridge ensures we have access for emergency fire and rescue vehicles,” Wallack said, noting that the east bridge was twice stuck in the up position during the last month — once for four hours.
Santos reminded commissioners of a recent death of a Venetian resident who suffered a heart attack and couldn’t be attended to by paramedics because of delays in getting across the drawbridge.
Miami Beach fire officials said that because the city of Miami cannot bring any fire trucks across the bridge. Miami has placed a pumper truck at the 1000 Venetian Way condo for emergency use. Miami could send firefighters to run the truck on pickup trucks until the bridge construction begins, and by boat after.