Venetian Causeway closes at midnight; nine months of detours to begin

Workers race to open 17th Street to West Avenue lanes on Saturday

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.


When Venetian-to-Miami link closes, at least we’ll be able to turn right on West Avenue

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.



Friday night bike ride will cross Venetian, snarl traffic

Route for Friday night's ride

Route for Friday night’s ride

Plan for a Venetian Way traffic mess Friday night.

Critical Mass — the last-Friday-of-the-month bicycling event — is using its last chance before Venetian bridge construction closes the west span on June 1 to make the Miami Beach to mainland Miami crossing.

And that means at minimum, hundreds of bikes crossing the causeway starting around 7:45 p.m.

Friday’s ride starts at 7:15 p.m. on the mainland, riders will cross to Miami Beach over the 79th Street Causeway.

According to Miami Beach police, the cyclists will then continue east along 71 Street, then south at Indian Creek Drive towards 63 Street. They will continue south along Collins Avenue to Dade Boulevard.

At Dade Boulevard, cyclists will head west to the Venetian Causeway, where they will exit Miami Beach and continue into the city of Miami.

Our advice: Plan your Venetian travel before 7:30 p.m. or after 9 p.m. — and just to be careful. And if you get caught in the traffic, be patient!


Venetian bridge closure warnings coming soon to a mailbox near you

bridge flyerIt 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.



Drawbridge between Rivo Alto and Belle Isle to stay down during Venetian bridge construction

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.

Belle Isle Key owners are planning another project

It’s been five years since Belle Isle residents successfully fought a proposal from the owners of the apartment complex Belle Isle Key to knock the low-rise complex down and replace it with a shiny five-story conplex.

The owners of the property at 31 Venetian Way, the EuroAmerican Group, have hired a new architect and have a new design.

They will be giving Belle Isle residents a look on Tuesday, Belle Isle Residents Association president Scott Diffenderfer says.

The preview will happen at 7 p.m. at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave., in the card room.

The existing apartment complex on the site has 120 units. The previous proposal called for 181 apartments in two five-story buildings, including a 315-space parking garage topped by two tennis courts.

The Miami Beach Design Review Board approved the project in July 2010

Rendering of previous plan

Rendering of previous plan

, but only if one of the two five-story buildings proposed for the site was scaled back by one floor. The developer appealed to the Miami Beach City Commission, and when that failed, went to court. They were unsuccessful there as well.

Boil water order lifted for Belle Isle

The city of Miami Beach has informed building managers that the boil water advisory is lifted for Belle Isle and the water is safe to drink, wash dishes with, etc…..