Plans to repair a segment of the Venetian Causeway already are underway, but the thoroughfare may end up getting a complete makeover.
At a public meeting Wednesday, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced that a study has been launched to examine the potential overhaul of the entire 87-year-old causeway.
FDOT’s 2014 bridge inspection report prompted the study when it rendered all 12 of the bridges along the causeway either in need of rehabilitation or replacement. Ten of the bridges were declared by the report to be “functionally obsolete.”
“These bridges are designed to last 50 years or so,” said Dat Huynh, project engineer. “The Venetian is well past its service life, but it is also historic.”
The causeway is the oldest in Florida and since it has historic designation, the study needs to evaluate how to minimize changes to the bridges. With work to the bridge closest to Miami scheduled for this year, FDOT said it is likely that section will not require further repairs.
In addition to assessing engineering concerns, FDOT will address environmental issues in the study. FDOT representatives anticipate the study will take at least three years before a plan is finalized.
The study’s launch was met by concerns from the over 70 Miami Beach residents in attendance.
“My concern is that you maintain the current character of one-lane each way, the look and feel and that you keep a lane open during construction for emergency vehicles,” said Michael Fryd, a member of the Venetian Island Homeowners Association.
Several residents called for the first change to be one that does not require any machinery - a name change to Venetian Way.
“This should be a way,” said Mark White, chair of Transportation & Parking Committee. “It has been treated it like a causeway.”
FDOT plans to continue to host public meetings to involve residents.
Weekly updates concerning meetings and the project are available at fdotmiamidade.com/venetianbridgestudy.