Some of you may have heard that the Venetian Causeway will be shut down for an extended period of time. Head on over to the Belle Isle Blog for more background information.
The upshot is that due to lack of maintenance (before you place blame fully at the people at Public Works and Waste Management, consider that the political leadership in Miami continues to push for lower taxes and this is pretty much what you end up getting), the westernmost part of the bridge must be demolished and replaced. The problems surfaced when a Miami Dade County bus crossed the Venetian Causeway and got stuck and a hole opened up. After a brief closure, new weight limits mean that County buses are unable to cross the Causeway, leading to a increases in travel times for those working on the islands.
The bridge won’t be closed for another four to six months and will then be shut down to all traffic for about six to nine months. This report was confirmed at a recent meeting with Public Works and Waste Management department staff. And given the track record of recent projects, things must be going well. Residents, visitors and workers (some of whom may not have another means of transport) use the Venetian Causeway as the only viable – as in not completely unsafe – option to access South Beach. The other two options – the MacArthur Causeway and the Julia Tuttle Causeway managed by the Florida Department of Transportation – are not recommended routes, despite FDOT having put bike lanes on them (we have asked FDOT District 6 head Gus Pego to bike those routes with us to show that he considers them safe, so far he hasn’t taken us up on the offer). Add the current construction project on the MacArthur and the convoluted access to the sidewalk that leads to the bike lane on the mainland side as well as our usual crazy Miami drivers and making the trip by bike increases your chances of serious injury or fatality to an unacceptable degree (as if the current situation wasn’t already bad enough).
We suggest that the County do the following:
- provide options for those unable to get to Miami Beach by increasing bus service to Miami Beach and the islands by way of Miami Beach;
- consider adding trailers to buses so that those needing to go to Miami Beach do not have expose themselves to the dangers of either the Tuttle or the MacArthur Causeway (for examples, look here, here and here - and yes, being able to lock bikes would be good, this is Miami after all); and
- keep the public informed on the progress of the construction and the available transportation options.
We would like to find out what other – serious – ideas you have that the County could take up. Please feel free to add comments or send us an email.
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