Update: The causeway reopened around 11 p.m. to drivers and pedestrians.
The Venetian Causeway was closed Wednesday afternoon due to a malfunction on the drawbridge closest to Miami Beach.
At about 3 p.m., Miami-Dade officials shut the East Bascule Bridge down after it wasn’t aligning properly, said Gayle Love, a spokeswoman for the Public Works and Waste Management Department.
“The bridge is off track,” she said. “Two metal pieces were hitting where they shouldn’t be.”
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Love said crews were on scene working to get the bridge to function properly.
“They are assessing what needs to be done and acquiring the parts and are hoping to get it repaired as soon as possible,” she said.
The closure came during rush-hour traffic, causing heavy delays as drivers were asked to use the Julia Tuttle or the MacArthur causeways instead. The closed bridge also affected pedestrians and water traffic.
Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez said, “Miami Beach police has planned for these types of scenarios and is prepared to respond to any and all emergency calls.”
“We have staffed marine patrol for quick waterway access and we also have dedicated Miami Beach police officers on the west side of the bridge to handle any and all police calls.”
This is not the first time there has been trouble on the Venetian Causeway. The westernmost portion of the Venetian Causeway will soon undergo about $10 million in repairs after structural problems were found last year after a bus created a hole in the bridge deck. Inspections of the bridge revealed that chunks of concrete covering the road deck had fallen off, exposing metal rebar and leading to corrosion.
Last year, the eastern bridge got stuck in the upright position.
Love said bridge malfunctions happen.
“A bridge is a machine, and like any other machine something can go wrong,” she said. “It's a piece of equipment.”