Okey dokey. The good road construction news first:
By Monday, the of Miami Beach says it will reopen one east and one west lane on 17th street between the 17th Street Bridge and Alton Road. So we’ll no longer have to detour to Dade Boulevard to make our east.
But…..starting Monday night, the repaving of West Avenue between Lincoln Road and Fifth Street begins. According to the Florida Department of Transportation, this work will be done mostly at night. We’ll see what impact this has as the work moves forward.
Now that the Biscayne Island to mainland Miami span of Venetian Way is closed until 2016, it’s not too early to face up to the work ahead on the other Venetian bridges.
The Miami Herald’s Andres Viglucci does just that in a piece this morning, which examines the condition of the other bridges and the choices FDOT, Miami-Dade County and Venetian Isle residents face.
Here is the key paragraph imn the story — and the biggest issues ahead:
…Preservationists and Venetian Islands residents who have weighed in on the question overwhelmingly agree on one thing: Whether they are refurbished or rebuilt, the bridges should remain much as they are now: intimate and charming, low in scale and slow in speed, a popular draw for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists, tourists and locals alike, and affording unmatched, close-to-the-water vistas of Biscayne Bay.
While construction on the 17th Street bridge continues on Sunday, workers have opened lanes enabling Venetian Island residents to turn right on to West Avenue south.
You can return to Belle Isle and the other Venetian Islands directly from West Avenue and 17th Street as well.
The Florida Department of Transportation had pledged the intersection would reopen by the time the Venetian Causeway access to downtown Miami is shut down — which happens at midnight tonight.
Drivers still cannot go east-west on 17th Street between West Avenue and Alton Road.
We’re all bracing for the months of inconvenience that start Monday when the westernmost span on Venetian Way closes for reconstruction.
But we heard some decent news today from the Florida Department of Transportation: They plan to partially open the 17th Street bridge on Monday, so Venetian Isle residents can turn right on to West Avenue as we make our way south to the MacArthur Causeway.
According to FDOT spokeswoman Heather Leslie, “one eastbound and one westbound lane will reopen on 17 Street between Dade Boulevard and West Avenue.
“The contractor will continue underground drainage, water main and sanitary sewer operations within the existing work zone on West Avenue between Lincoln Road and 17 Street. 17 between Alton Court and West Avenue will be closed for all pedestrian traffic.”
The Venetian closure is expected to last about nine months.
It looks like June 1 will officially mark the day the bridge between Biscayne Island and mainland Miami really closes the the rebuild, and our nine to 12 months of detoured traffic begins.
Miami-Dade County is mailing all island residents an informational card this week that spells out the start, the schedule and cost (9 months, $12.4 million), and the fact that the east Venetian drawbridge will be locked down and closed to boats during construction to keep traffic flowing out of the islands.
So, starting in two weeks, the drive to mainland means going north to the Julia Tuttle Causeway or south to the MacArthur. If you ride a bike — well, it’s going to be even tougher.
The Coast Guard has agreed to keep the eastern Venetian Way drawbridge in the down position during the closing and rebuild of the west end of the historic causeway.
The Florida Department of Transportation announced the Coast Guard pledge at a community meeting Wednesday night, which wsa scheduled to get resident into on different options for reparing all the Venetian bridges.
Miami Beach officials and Venetian island residents have been pleading for the Coast Guard to lock down the easternmost span for months, ever since engineers said structural issues on the Venetian span between mainland Miami and Biscayne Island were so severe that the bridge would have to be closed and rebuilt.
Keeping the bridge in the down position means residents — and emergency vehicles — won’t be delayed by bridge closings as they navigate the much longer route from the islands to mainland Miami. Because of the bridge work, all island residents heading to Miami will have to use either the MacArthur or Julia Tuttle causeways.
The rebuild of the westernmost span is supposed to begin on June 1. It’s expected to last nine to 12 months.
The Miami Herald’s Joey Flechas has an account of last night’s meeting.
We know that the westernmost bridge span on Venetian Way will be torn down and rebuilt starting next month, closing off the most convenient connection between the Venetian islands and Miami for the next year.
Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Transportation is working on plans to rehab the other bridges connecting the islands on Venetian Way. The process has been underway for a year, and there is an important public meeting on May 13 at which FDOT will reveal different alternatives for the reconstruction.
Note, that is one of TWO important meetings on how the Venetian Causeway bridge work will impact Venetian island residents.
— The first is Wednesday, May 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Miami Beach Regional Library, 227 22 St. At this meeting, the Miami-Dade County Public Works & Waste Management Department will provide information related to the rehabilitation of the westernmost bridge.
— The second happens a week later, Wednesday May 13, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Dr. At this meeting, FDOT will discuss potential alternatives such as replacement or rehabilitation to deal with structural and functional issues on the 12 existing bridges (ten fixed spans and two drawbridges).
An important issue underlying these discussions: Should the bridges be repaired or should some of them be replaced. If they are replaced, will the features of the historic design be preserved and to what degree?
The process began in April 2014, and there are many steps before final decisions are made. This is an important opportunity for community input.