Workers race to open 17th Street to West Avenue lanes on Saturday.
After more than a year of dread and delay, the Venetian Causeway link between the Venetian Islands and downtown Miami closes tonight — for at least nine months.
The $12.4 million job means no Miami Beach to Miami access for Art Basel (December) and the Miami Marathon (February), Art Deco Weekend (January), the Boat Show (February), South Beach Food and Wine (February) and possibly Winter Music Conference and Ultra (March).
It’s inconvenient for drivers, and a nightmare for bikes and scooterswho know the Venetian to be the quickest and safest path for them across Biscayne Bay.
March 15, 2014. That’s the day when a chunk of the westernmost Venetian Causeway bridge gave way under the tire of Miami-Dade Transit bus.
A month later, Miami-Dade County announced the structural deficiencies in the bridge were so severe that the span would have to be closed and rebuilt. At the time, Miami-Dade said the closure would begin in four to six months, and work would take nine months.
Could some of the event impact have been avoided if the county moved closer to its original timetable? Maybe. But with nine months of construction, it’s hard not to impact a major attraction in an event-laden area like ours.
There’s an interesting story by the Miami Herald’s Joey Flechas today that reveals that the contractor could get the work done before Art Basel — for $4.7 million more than the $12.4 million construction contract. It’s money Miami-Dade says it’s not willing to pay.
Meanwhile, island residents prepared Sunday for their longer commutes, contractors worked all weekend on the 17th Street connectiion to West Avenue, trying to get it ready so drivers heading south to the MacArthur Causeway could avoid the detour to Alton Road.