Tag Archives: West Avenue bridge

Hey, Belle Isle residents! Think you have traffic and construction? Brace yourself for so much more

A wave of new road projects — a cascade of construction with attendant detours, road closures and delays — begins in and around our neigborhood next week.

It will last well into 2017, and will impact every path in and out of the Venetian Islands,  we learned this week at the annual Belle Isle Residents Association meeting. More 100 people attended the meeting, and they got an earful.

The projects include the rebuild and raising of West Avenue, the closure and replacement of the westernmost bridge on the Venetian Causeway, the construction of a new West Avenue bridge over the Collins Canal,  and the rebuild and elevation of Dade Boulevard.

The projects address a range of ills: traffic flow, the flooding issues on Alton Road, West Avenue and in Sunset Harbour, and the replacement of old and failing underground utilities.

Dr. Bruce Mowry, the city of Miami Beach engineer, outlined a series of major projects that will begin next week:

— West Avenue reconstruction. The first work will begin next week, Mowry said. This is a project that runs from Fifth to 17th streets, and will involve the installation of five more pumping stations (on 17th and Sixth streets, built by Miami Beach, and on 14th, 10th and First, handled by FDOT). Two new pumping stations have been built as part of the Alton Road project.

The work is expected to last a year and a half, and it will be done in phases. The first phase is nearest to Sunset Harbour and the Venetian Isles, Mowry said, running from 17th Street to Lincoln Road. There will be major work on 17th Street from the bridge over the Collins Canal east to Alton Road; there will be lane reductions and occasion detours during the day.

There may be some intermittent closures on 17th street, he said, but generally it will be open with lane closures. Dade Blvd will have to take the brunt of the traffic during those times.

Mowry said the plan is for the work around 17th Street to begin next week and be done by the end of summer. Mowry said the city has urged FDOT to finish one area before starting work and disrupting another.

A second phase is the area between Fifth and Eighth streets. And then there are two other major work areas, at 10th and 14th streets. The entire project, which won’t be completed until 2017, will also include rebuilding Bay Road south of the Collins Canal.

— The West Avenue Bridge, connecting the West Avenue neighborhood with Sunset Harbour.

This project will impact West Avenue, 17th Street, Dade Boulevard and the landing area for the bridge in Sunset Harbour. Mowry said it is under design right now, and will take about seven and a half months for design and permits. Bids could be sought as early as fall, and construction could begin in early 2016.

The construction is expected to take between 12 and 18 months.

It will have broad impact. To create enough clearance over the Collins Canal, 17th Street will have to be raised for the bridge approach. So will Dade Boulevard on the north side of the canal. The bridge path next to the under-construction Residence Inn on 17th Street also must be elevated, he said.

“Dade Boulevard is a very low point,” Mowry said. “It will need to be raised up to three feet, and then the bridge roadway will be tapered into Sunset Harbour. That makes this bridge a complex system. The issue with Bay Road and all the illegal turns there is right in the middle of that. its a very confusing area there.”

— Venetian Causeway West Bridge. Work is expected to begin as soon as April or May, and the bridge will close. That means to get off the Venetian Islands — From Biscayne Island to Belle Isle — All drivers will have to head east to go north to the Julia Tuttle Causeway or south to the MacArthur. Likewise, returning to Miami Beach from the mainland.

Belle Isle Residents Association President Scott Diffenderfer said that a Miami-Dade County bid committee is supposed to meet March 3 and make recommendations on a contractor to the Miami-Dade Commission, and if all goes as expected the work will begin in 30 to 60 days after that. The construction is expected to take about nine months.

The residents association and the city of Miami Beach have been lobbying the Coast Guard to lock down the east Venetian drawbridge (between Belle Isle and Rivo Alto) during the construction period to keep traffic flowing, but there is no resolution of the issue, Diffenderfer said.

There is a study continuing on the condition of the other Venetian bridges, Mowry said, but that isn’t expected to be completed for another year. It’s expected more construction will be needed on many, if not all, of them.

Other bridges on Venetian are under study, and next process of repairs is more than a year away, Mowry said.

— Alton Road construction. Mowry said while more lanes on Alton Road are now open, the entire project won’t be complete until August. FDOT still needs to install the final layer of asphalt on the roadway, which may start in April and run through June, and that will mean sporadic lane shifts and closures.

Dedicated bike lanes will be identified with paint, and will go north to 17th street.

— Sunset Harbour drainage and street improvements. Virtually all of Sunset Harbour is under construction, part of $5 million in improvements that include replacing underground pipes and utilities that haven’t been upgraded in 70 years, Mowry said.

The utility work should be finished by the end of summer, and then work will begin on the sidewalks, landscaping and road resurfacing. There is a community meeting in Sunset Harbour on Wednesday, Feb. 18, to get input on those improvements, Miami Beach spokeswoman Lynn Bernstein said. That meeting happens at at 6:30 p.m. at 1800 Purdy. (note — an earlier version of this post incorrectly said this meeting happens on a Tuesday; it is WEDNESDAY).

 

Belle Isle residents meeting to focus on upcoming projects — from Watson Island to West Avenue

If you feel like that the construction projects around our island paradise never end, that’s because….they never end.

The Belle Isle Residents Association meets on Tuesday. The agenda is packed with presentations that affect Belle Isle, Sunset Harbour and the other Venetian Islands.  A sampling:

— A report from the city of Miami Beach on the construction timeline and design for the West Avenue bridge, which will extend West Avenue over the Collins Canal to connect Sunset Harbour with the area south of 17th Street.

— An overview of the upcoming reconstruction of West Avenue south to Fifth Street, including the plan to raise the roadway as much as three feet to combat flooding.

–An update on the closure and rebuilding of the westernmost span of the Venetian Causeway, which will disrupt traffic throughout the Venetian Islands

— A presentation from the organization that is fighting the proposed mega-marina project on Watson Island, which is expected to affect traffic on the MacArthur, Tuttle and Venetian causeways.

And that’s just a start. The meeting begins with a social hour at 6 p.m., and important information at 7 p.m. It happens in the card room at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Avenue.

 

Get ready for continuing construction at Belle Isle’s doorstep

Rendering of proposed Marriott hotel

Rendering of proposed Marriott hotel

A Marriott Residence Inn on 17th Street. A West Avenue bridge over the Collins Canal. A streetscape project in Sunset Harbour.

If you think the maze of detours and clamor of construction equipment just east of Belle Isle will end with the completion of the Alton Road project  (and the Venetian Isles streetscape), think again.

There’s a series of new projects in the queue, Belle Isle residents learned  Wednesday night at a meeting at the Belle Plaza condominium.  Belle Isle Residents Association President Scott Diffenderfer gave this overview:

residence-inn-site

The lot is the triangle shape northwest of the A

The Marriott Residence Inn the city approved last spring for the pie-shaped property at West Avenue between 17th Street and the Collins Canal is in the process of being permitted by the city, and work could begin in a month or two. The city approved a 116-room hotel designed by architect Kobi Karp for the site.

Commissioners chose this configuration for the bridge.

The city chose this configuration for the bridge.

— Design work on the proposed West Avenue Bridge, which would cross the Collins Canal and link Sunset Harbour with the West Avenue area near Epicure, is moving forward, though construction won’t begin until the Alton Road project is complete.

The city commission approved construction of the bridge in April 2012. The bridge will include one northbound lane and two southbound lanes, one of them for cars turning left on to 17th Street from Sunset Harbour. There will be a sidewalk and bike path in each direction.

— The city is preparing documents to enable bidding for a streetscape  project in Sunset Harbour that will include solving the flooding problem and installing new sidewalks, lighting and landscaping. Bids will be sought this summer.

Belle Isle residents received updates on a variety of other issues:

— Alton Road reconstruction. The city and the Florida Department of Transportation are trying to get the project finished by December 2014, seven months earlier than projected, by working longer hours Belle Isle residents will get updates on a variety of public and private construction projects on and around our island when the Residents Association meets Tuesday night.
Among the items on the agenda:
— We’ll learn the latest timetable for switching the toll collection on the Veneitan Causeway to Sunpass, and how that may affect annual pass renewals, which happen each May.
— The Florida Department of Transportation will provide an update on the Alton Road construction project, which has disrupted traffic throught the east side of Miami Beach.
— The city will report on the sulphur odor on Belle Isle and around the park, as well as the park landscaping.
— The city will explain the delays on the Collins Canal bikepath, a partially completed project that was due to be complete last year. The pathway is mostly done, but lighting and landscaping are not.
— We’re get a report on the Sunset Harbour pumping station project, designed to reduce flooding in that neighborhood.
— The Belle Isle Residents Association will update several development projects near us — the 17th Street Marriott Residence Inn, proposed apartment on Belle Isle at the Belle Isle Key apartment location and a proposed parking expansion and renovation at The Standard.

The meeting happens at Belle Plaza, 20 Island Ave. There is a meet and greet at 6 p.m. and the meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Sent from my iPad on construction. FDOT representative Enrique Tamayo told homeowners that FDOT will try to minimize the impact on neighborhoods, but a major project like this is very disruptive.

Venetian Causeway conversion to SunPass. This is expected to happen in late summer. Venetian Island property owners with C-Pass transponders will be contacted so they can register their SunPass devices to work properly on at the toll plaza. We’ll still pay an annual $24 fee; other causeway users will be charged a toll each time on their SunPass. There will no longer be toll takers at the plaza.

The city has switched from iPark devices to a PaybyPhone, a smartphone app to allows you to charge metered parking to a credit card. The new app will be in service in a month or so.

— Proposed Standard Hotel renovation and new parking structure. This idea, floated by the hotel in January 2013, isn’t being pushed by the owners. They received a lukewarm reception from the neighborhood last year, and haven’t submitted a formal proposal to the city.

Belle Isle gets glimpse of proposed 17th Street hotel

Rendering includes proposed West Ave. bridge.

Rendering includes proposed West Ave. bridge.

The developer of the proposed Marriott Residence Inn on 17th Street and West Avenue gave Belle Isle residents a presentation of plans for the 116-room hotel on Thursday.

The project is scheduled for a Planning Board review on April 30.

Here are the vital statistics:

Rendering of the hotel from the Collins Canal.

Rendering of the hotel from the Collins Canal.

— It’s a five-story building, the same height as the retail apartment building immediately to the east that houses the Vespa store on the corner of 17th Street and Alton Road. It would have 66 parking spaces in a mechanical lot.

— The development site is tiny, about 25,000 square feet north of 17th Street, east of the planned West Avenue Bridge, and south of the Collins Canal, which parallels Dade Boulevard.

— Residence Inns feature studios and suites with small kitchens tailored toward business travelers and families. It will have a ground floor restaurant for guests only (these hotels provide free breakfasts), a small conference room and a rooftop pool to serve hotel guests only (11 p.m. close). There will be no outdoor bar counter on the roof, and the owner has proposed to agree not to hold any events on the rooftop.

— The developer is the Finvarb Group, headed by Robert Finvarb. The company has a number of Marriott properties in Florida and elsewhere, including the Courtyard Inn on Washington Avenue at 16th Street.  The architect is renowned Kobi Karp.

Belle Isle Residents Association members at Thursday night’s meeting at the Belle Plaza condo had lots of questions about how the hotel would accommodate deliveries, the expected traffic impact, and when employees would come and go.

Traffic planner Richard Garcia said his impact study showed the hotel would generate less than half the traffic of some other uses that could be allowed on the property, such as a pharmacy, dry cleaner or fast food restaurant. He projected the busiest hour for traffic to be 5-6 p.m., when about 33 trips would be made in and out of the property.

The project’s land-use lawyer, Michael Larkin, projected that no more than 12 employees would be working at the hotel at any given time, but that did not include parking valets.

So, what do you think?

Miami Beach Commission approves West Avenue bridge

Miami Beach City Commissioners on Wednesday approved the concept of building a West Avenue bridge over the Collins Canal to provide a direct route from South Beach to Sunset Harbour.

In a 6-1 vote, commissioners decided to exercise an option for property held by the Miami Beach Housing Authority at West Avenue between 17th Street and the Collins Canal. That land provides the path for the bridge crossing.

Commissioners chose this configuration for the bridge.

Their vote backed a recommendation from Florida Department of Transportation consultants for a bridge that includes one northbound lane and two southbound lanes, one for cars turning left on to 17th Street from Sunset Harbour. The recommendation included bike lanes and a separate sidewalk in each direction.

The vote  also called for the commission’s Neighborhoods committee to explore the impact of a bridge that included a northbound right turn lane to 17th Street, and traffic calming measures for West Avenue south of Lincoln Road.

Commissioner Jorge Exposito said he supported the bridge but didn’t want to be locked in to the specific configuration supported by planners, and wanted them to explore adding a right turn lane at 17th Street.

Commissioner Jerry Libben voted no. (Note, an earlier version of this post incorrectly said Expositio had voted no).

Planners have said it will be two years before work will start on the bridge, but the commission had to decide on whether to acquire the right-of-way from the Housing Authority by May 2. If they did not act, the Housing Authority had several bidders interested in buying the land for development.

During nearly two hours of discussion, commissioners heard from several West Avenue residents who worried the bridge would attract more traffic and congestion to their neighborhood, as commuters seek to avoid Alton Road.

Supporters of the bridge said the traffic will come with or without the bridge. And residents of Sunset Harbour said with the restaurant and retail boom in their area — and the construction of the new city parking garage — the bridge is a necessity.

“Sunset Harbour is now a destination,” said Frank Kruszewski, a leader in the Sunset Harbour condominium association. “You have to do this when you have the opportunity.”

Miami Beach faces key West Avenue bridge vote Wednesday

The Miami Beach City Commission on Wednesday faces a key vote that will determine whether a West Avenue bridge is built over the Collins Canal to connect Sunset Harbour with South Beach.

Commissioners have until May 2  to decide whether to exercise an option for an easement on a small triangle of land owned by the Miami Beach Housing Authority north of 17th Street and the Collins Canal at West Avenue.

The neighborhoods around the proposed bridge — lower West Avenue, Sunset Harbor, lower North Bay Road, Belle Isle, Collins Park — are divided on whether it should be built.

Opponents worry it will lure traffic from overburdened Alton Road to residential neighborhoods.

Proponents say because of growth in the area — particularly in Sunset Harbor — the neighborhoods need a safety valve.

The issue is scheduled for discussion at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Scott Diffenderfer, president of the Belle Isle Residents Association, supports the bridge, but in a Dear Resident letter today conceded flaws in the planning so far:

The strongest arguments against the bridge are 1) that the traffic studies did not incorporate the surrounding neighborhoods, 2) that the building the bridge will add to both local and “cut through” traffic on West Avenue and lower North Bay Road and 3), that a bridge will encourage increased development (particularly “big box” development) in Sunset Harbour.  The first argument is very true – traffic studies are not comprehensive and did not go far enough to study the impact on the greater area.   But development in the neighborhood has ALREADY occurred and will continue to occur regardless of traffic studies say. 

  The argument that the bridge will be responsible for bringing additional traffic on West Avenue and lower North Bay Road and increase development in Sunset Harbour ignores the fact that traffic has already increased on both of these roads because of the continuing deteriorating conditions on Alton and the additional development..  The bridge will not create more traffic but will be a tool to manage traffic that already exists and will unfortunately continue to increase along with development.   

Residents opposed to the bridge are justifiably angry because of the current lack of traffic calming and enforcement in their neighborhoods.  But that should not be an argument against a bridge.

In a previous post on the bridge debate, a dozen people posted arguments for and against the proposal. It’s worth a look.

FDOT recommends plan for West Avenue bridge, gets divided feedback from neighborhoods

Rendering of park next to proposed West Avenue Bridge

The Florida Department of Transportation and the city of Miami Beach released recommendation for a West Avenue Bridge that would connect Sunset Harbour and West Avenue behind Epicure over the Collins Canal.

Presented at a public hearing Tuesday night at the Miami Beach Regional Library, engineers recommended a crossing with one northbound lane, one southbound lane, a southbound left-turn lane on to 17th Street and  bike-pedestrian lanes in each direction.

Engineers told the crowd of about 80 people that they considered six alternatives during their study, ranging from doing nothing, adding some traffic safety measures without building a bridge, and four different bridge alternatives (with one vehicle lane and one bike lane each way to a five-lane plan (one north plus on a northbound right turn lane, with one southbound lane and two southbound left-turn lanes on to 17th Avenue plus a bike lane in each direction).

(You can find the public hearing presentation here.)

The recommended plan would cost roughly $4.1 million to build, and construction wouldn’t begin until 2013. The proposal still needs approval from the state, the federal government and the Miami Beach City Commission.

And commissioners will hear from affected neighborhoods, which where decidedly divided on whether a bridge should be built at all.

Residents from West Avenue — representing the south end and the area around Lincoln Road — said the bridge would bring too much traffic and would be dangerous to pedestrians.

“This is simply a way of dumping Alton Road traffic on to West Avenue,” said Gayle Durham, head of the West Avenue Homeowners Association. “I didn’t move to West Avenue to have a traffic jam at my front door.”

Homeowners from lower North Bay Road — the neighborhood immediately north of Sunset Harbour — also opposed the plan. They said they fear commuters avoiding Alton Road through Sunset Harbour would continue north on their quiet street of single-family homes.

Michael Hammond, president of the Lower North Bay Road Homeowner Association, said he raised concerns at a hearing in November about overflow traffic in his neighborhood, and engineers said they would address it.

“They have not contacted us, and have taken no additional steps. They are saying 12 percent of traffic will come off Alton Road. That’s 4,000 to 5,000 trips a day down West Avenue, up to the entrance to our street. How many will come to us? They don’t know. You’ve done nothing to address this issue.”

But representatives from Belle Isle and Collins Park said they believe the bridge will ease overall traffic in the area.

Belle Isle Residents Association president Scott Diffenderfer said he was sympathetic to the worries of West Avenue residents, but development  in Sunset Harbour — with the new Fresh Market, restaurants and additional retail and parking in the soon-to-be completed parking garage —  demands the bridge.

“I do believe there is a problem on West Avenue and city has done a horrible job with enforcement,” he said. “But this bridge….is just inevitable. There is too much development without it.’

Former Miami Beach Commissioner Nancy Liebman, a resident of Belle Isle, said her daughter lives in Sunset Harbour and “it’s gridlock” at times there. She said she believes the bridge should be built — and the surrounding neighborhoods should band together to make sure improvements are made to make West Avenue safer and to shelter lower North Bay Road from Alton Road spillover traffic.

“I am very saddened to see that neighborhoods are pitted against neighborhoods,” she said. “