Tag Archives: Venetian Causeway

A 1920s postcard shows lush Belle Isle, early Rivo Alto, Fisher’s Flamingo Hotel

A 1920s view of Belle Isle facing east.

Belle Isle is the only “natural” island on the Venetian Causeway. We know the other Venetian Islands — Rivo Alto, DiLido, San Marino, San Marco and Biscayne — were dredged, filled and linked with the roadway between 1923 and 1926.

Our latest postcard find (thanks, eBay!) shows Rivo Alto in the foreground, Belle Isle, and the western edge of Miami Beach with Carl Fisher’s classic Flamingo Hotel.

You can see that most of Rivo Alto is open space, though the streets and a couple of homes have been built.

This photo shows the Joseph Adams and J.C. Penney estates.

Compare the postcard view to the above early 1930s photo of Belle Isle, taken from the north facing south, which also shows the Flamingo.  This is from the Florida Memory Project, subject of an earlier blog post.

Finally, here’s a 1923 photo from east to west that shows Miami Beach, Belle Isle, and a sandy and vacant Rivo Alto as the only island along the Venetian Causeway path.

!923 photograph shows view to Miami across Venetian Causeway.


Venetian Causeway construction won’t be done til mid September — hopefully

Work undone includes leveling pavement with sidewalks and curbs and finishing medians.

The reconstruction of the historic Venetian Causeway — with wider sidewalks, pink crosswalks, vintage light posts, better drainage and repaving — is eight months behind schedule, and counting.

If you live on the Venetian, you know the route between mainland Miami and Miami Beach has been an obstacle course of lane changes and uneven pavement. You’ve cringed as your car shuddered over uneven crosswalks and elevated manhole covers.

When Venetian homeowners met with the Miami-Dade Public Works officials in late May, the official word was that work would be done by late July, barring surprises and bad weather.

Now, the timetable is mid-September, Miami-Dade County says.

“Weather delays and unexpected conflicts have pushed the substantial completion of the project,” said Francisco Calderon, communications manager for the Miami-Dade Public Works and Waste Management Division.

There is some progress. Landscaping is being installed in some median areas (on Belle Isle, for instance), Calderon said.

“Additionally, some concrete islands and sidewalks are currently under construction, and streetlight activities (installation of conduit and pull boxes) are in progress.”

But there is a fairly substantial list of items to be completed in the next six weeks, the county says, including:

— The irrigation system for the landscaping.

— Final sidewalk and concrete island work.

— Removal of the tall, old metal street lights that are being replaced by the new (old-looking) lights.

— Final layers of asphalt and pavement marking and signs.

— Odds and ends.

Calderon said people should know that some of the ongoing work on Biscayne and San Marco islands in Miami is not being done by the county and is on a different timeline.

“The city of Miami is currently constructing a stormwater pump station and related piping on San Marco Island. Additionally, the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department is installing water piping and street lights on North Venetian Dr. in Biscayne Island.”


With Venetian Causeway delays, island streetscape project falls behind

The delays in completing the Venetian Causeway construction project — now expected to be done at the end of July — mean that work on sidewalk, lighting and landscaping upgrades on the Venetian Isles won’t be begin until about November, according to the city of Miami Beach.

The causeway reconstruction project, which includes wider sidewalks, drainage, lighting and crosswalks on the historic route between Miami and Miami Beach, is about seven months behind schedule due to an array of construction problems, ranging from rain delays to difficulties with underground utilities.

The original budget for the Streetscape project for Rivo Alto, DiLido and San Marino isles was $7.8 million. But moving underground water and sewer lines to make way for the Venetian work cost the city about $1 million.

Right now, the county expects to complete the work on the Venetian by the end of July. The city of Miami Beach is planning to invite bids on the island streetscape work on June 1, said Fernando Vazquez, Miami Beach’s director of capital improvements.

Typically, that is a 45-60 day process. If all goes well, the city would follow up with notices to proceed, and work could start sometime around November, Vazquez told homeowners at a meeting last week.

The capital improvement department will ask for another $1 million during the city’s capital improvement budgeting process, which happens in July.

At a meeting with Venetian Causeway Homeowner Association members, Vazquez said he will let VIHA members know when the City Commission meets on the capital money so they can urge that commissioners approve the additional funds.

During Urban Weekend, cops will be nearly everywhere on Venetian Causeway

The Venetian Islands will have cops on almost every corner during Memorial Day weekend, with signs warning drivers the Venetian Causeway is for locals only, Miami Beach Police told island homeowners on Wednesday.

Miami Beach’s new police chief, Ray Martinez, and his top leadership outlined the unprecedented police presence at a meeting at the Miami Beach Garden Center.

“What we have done for you on the Venetian Islands is very unique,” said Capt. Henry Doce. “You guys will notice that you can move around….but tourists will be given the impression that they can’t get in.”

There will be barricades at each island entrance at the causeway, and either a Miami Beach police officer or security alliance member will be stationed on each island, Doce said.

The traffic control strategy will severely restrict entry to Miami Beach on the MacArthur, Julia Tuttle and Venetian causeways on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, Doce said.

Each night,  eastbound traffic from Miami on the MacArthur and the Tuttle  will be squeezed from three lanes to one, Doce said. License tag scanners will be used to check for drivers with outstanding arrest warrants. On the MacArthur on Friday night, police will operate a DUI checkpoint.

On the Venetian, signs on the mainland Miami and Miami Beach entrances will warn the passage is for local residents only. A Miami police officer will be stationed near the causeway entrance, police lights blazing, to discourage non-residents. The barricades and police presence will discourage non-residents from leaving the main causeway for the islands.

One resident asked Doce what Venetian residents should tell guests visiting their homes during the weekend. “Make sure they know your address,” Doce said.

Michael Bauman, who oversees the Venetian Causeway for Miami-Dade Public Works, said Miami Beach asked permission to close the Venetian to non-resident traffic, but they county could not allow it.

“We operate a county roadway and it is open to everyone all the time,” Bauman said. “We won’t be restricting access….the policies the police department has in place are voluntary policies.”

A resident asked Bauman if all six causeway toll lanes (three east and three west) would be staffed at all times. He said staffing will be increased, but he could not commit to all the lanes being open for the entire weekend.

“We will do our best to staff all lanes. It’s part of our plan,” he said.

Miami-Dade County: Venetian Causeway construction should be done by July

Miami-Dade construction chief Bassam Moubayed explains problems with Venetian Causeway construction.

The long, painful reconstruction of the Venetian Causeway — with its erratic lane shifts, jarring bumps, cyclist and pedestrian hazards — should be complete by the end of July, Miami-Dade’s County Public Works Department construction chief said Wednesday night.

“By July, it should be done,” Bassam Moubayed told impatient members of the Venetian Isle Residents Association. Being done means a final layer of pavement in place, flush with the pink crosswalks and manhole covers.

Unless there is lots of rain, Moubayed said. That could delay completion of the project, which is already nearly five months behind schedule.

“Pray for dry weather,” said Venetian Isles Residents Association president Greg Carney.

Bad weather is one reason the project — which includes wider sidewalks, new lighting, drainage and crosswalks — is so late. But so are the myriad surprises contractors found while doing the work, Moubayed said, like electric and gas lines in different places from shown on plans.

When the causeway work is complete, the city of Miami Beach will begin work on the individual Venetian Islands, installing new drains, sidewalks, lighting and landscaping.

Venetian water lines repaired; boil water order in effect until Friday.

Residents of Rivo Alto, DiLido, San Marino, Palm and Hibiscus islands are under a precautionary boil water order until Friday as result of damaged caused by a Venetian Causeway construction crew.

The boil water order does not include Belle Isle.

The water line was repaired early Wednesday after being damaged on Tuesday and disrupting water service.

Venetian island residents howl at Miami Beach when cars get towed from their neighborhood

On Saturday, the tow trucks rolled to Rivo Alto and DiLido islands on the Venetian Causeway, at the orders of the city of Miami Beach.

They towed more than a dozen cars.

Some belonged to island homeowners. Some belonged to their friends. Some belonged to workers with jobs at one of the homes.

Here’s an account from Rivo Alto resident Tony Santos:

“A complaint was sent in by someone on Rivo Alto that there were cars parked on the pavement in front of homes.  Based on that complaint, MB Parking Enforcement came out and ticketed and towed cars parked on the city streets on Rivo Alto.

“I stopped them from towing my wife’s car this morning because I heard a terribly loud noise of a truck in front of my home for a little while; otherwise there was no warning of any kind at any time.  The MB Parking Enforcement officer confirmed that to me as well.  While she was very professional (and I have to admit that given the fact I rousted out of bed, I was not taking too kindly to the situation), she stood by her orders.  Upon promising to move the vehicle, I placed it in neighbor’s driveway.”

By the count of some residents, the city had at least seven cars towed from the front of homes on DiLido Island, in addition to cars ticketed and towed from Rivo Alto.

The action created a furor on the islands during the weekend, and demands that Miami Beach city hall back off.

The issue, according to Venetian Island Homeowner Association president Greg Carney, is the city classifies the tiny streets on the three city Venetian islands — Rivo Alto, DiLido and San Marino — to be highways. And ordinances say “that vehicles cannot be parked in the travel lanes of HIGHWAYS,” Carney said in a letter to homeowners.

“The idea is twofold as I understand the Parking Department’s or CIty Attorney Office’s interpretation,” Carney wrote. “First, you don’t want cars being parked to create a hazard.  The idea here is if cars are parked in travel lanes on major through streets like Alton Road or the Venetian Causeway, fast moving traffic will be forced into the path of oncoming fast moving traffic, which creates an obvious safety issue.
“Second, vehicles should not be parked in such a way as to force pedestrians out into fast moving traffic for obvious safety reasons.
“In addition, there is another requirement that there be enough of a travel lane maintained on any public street whether HIGHWAY or not that emergency vehicles (e.g., police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, etc) be able to get by without hinderance for obvious reasons.”
Of course, the roads on the Venetian Islands do not function as thoroughfares like Alton Road or the Venetian Causeway.
One resident, who has lived on the island for 18 years, posted this note on a message board:
I got a ticket 4 months ago for parking in front of my house but not in my driveway.  I had no room because maids, maintenance, pool guy, etc. were there.  This is a problem and should be addressed.  We should be able to park near our homes…. there is no where to go.  There needs to be a way to handle all of this!
Carney said the city ought to apply some logic to its enforcement.
“The only rational solution, as I  have discussed with the City on a number of occasions, is to have the City interpret that the ordinance does not apply to non-HIGHWAYS and to deem our streets not to be HIGHWAYS,” Carney said.
“I strongly urge them to get this resolved once and for all: it seems as if it should be easy – modify the official interpretation of the ordinance and tell Parking to leave the residents alone.  I think it highly unlikely that the county or the State will come after the city for how it enforces parking on local city streets even if the county or state thinks our streets are HIGHWAYS.  Cut the residents some slack.”
He called on island residents to contact the city manager and their commissioners “to express frustration over this issue.  It sure has frustrated me.”