Smaller buses to serve a portion of Venetian Causeway

04/15/2014 7:28 PM

04/16/2014 5:45 AM

Limited, smaller buses will begin service along the Venetian Causeway on Wednesday morning, but riders will still have to find another way to get to Miami Beach from the mainland.

Miami-Dade County Transit suspended service over the causeway on Friday after strict weight restrictions were put into effect. The five- and 11-ton weight restrictions were enacted because of structural deficiencies that were discovered after a bus created a hole in a bridge deck.

Affected are bus Route A, which travels over the Venetian to Lincoln Road, and the South Beach Local.

Even with the modified route, riders won’t be able to take a bus from the mainland to the Venetian Islands. The problem is that the westernmost bridge has the strictest weight restrictions and the smaller buses still exceed those limits.

As a result, Route A riders can travel only as far west as Northeast 12th Place and North Venetian Way on San Marco Island. The island to the west of that, Biscayne Island, will remain closed to buses.

“That’s a long walk,” said Jack Hartog, president of the Venetian Way Neighborhood Alliance.

The easternmost stop on the modified route is Meridian Avenue and 17th Street.

John Felder, a compliance specialist for Merchant Data Systems, said he catches the A bus at the Omni Bus Terminal on the mainland side of the causeway to travel between home and work. The terminal is a popular connecting point for riders, many of whom are house cleaners, nannies and hospitality workers.

“Unfortunately, now I’ll be stuck taking the long way around the bay with crowded buses during rush hour,” Felder wrote in an email.

The modified route will run from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and again from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Buses will run approximately every 30 minutes.

The South Beach Local Belle Isle stop remains relocated to the east entrance of the causeway, near Purdy Avenue and Dade Boulevard. The South Beach Local schedule remains the same.

Inspections of the bridge have revealed that chunks of concrete covering the road deck had fallen off, exposing metal rebar and leading to corrosion. Repairs for the westernmost portion of the causeway are expected to cost $9 million and will require a month-long shutdown.

Eventually, the county would like to replace all 12 structures that make up the historically designated causeway. That project is estimated to cost $110 million and require up to nine months of closures.

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