Crippled southbound span of Brickell bridge opens

01/23/2013 2:22 PM

01/24/2013 8:43 AM

The damaged southbound span of the Brickell Avenue drawbridge reopened Thursday morning after transportation officials devised a plan to get the crippled bridge working again after three days of chaos.

The southbound span got stuck in the up position when its locking mechanism, consisting of two locking devices, were damaged during a test early Tuesday.

Dennis Fernandez, the Miami Florida Department of Transportation structures maintenance administrator, said workers planned to remove one of two locking devices from the northbound span and install it on the southbound span.

The successful maneuver allowed workers to reopen two lanes of the three-lane southbound span, to allow road traffic to flow again. One of the northbound lanes closed after the locking device was removed, to reduce stress on the bridge.

This was a temporary fix until engineers get extra locking mechanisms to return the bridge to normal operations.

Marine traffic was initially halted when operators could neither raise nor close the southbound span. But by Tuesday afternoon, workers had removed the lock bars on the southbound span and operators were again able to raise and lower it in conjunction with the north span, allowing ship traffic to flow again on the Miami River.

Many residents and workers in the Brickell financial district despise the drawbridge because it causes lengthy backups whenever it opens for boat traffic.

In 1999, FDOT rejected an idea by then-Miami Mayor Joe Carollo to replace the drawbridge with a tunnel under the river.

The current bridge opened to traffic in 1995.

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