Plans to restore Bay Harbor Islands’ Broad Causeway bridges are finally in motion after the town council approved a $11.5million contract to repair the deteriorating bridges at a special town meeting Monday.
The town has considered the project for six years, and plans have been on the drawing board since 2010, the same year a Florida Department of Transportation report determined the causeway’s Intracoastal Waterway bridge to be functionally obsolete.
Town Manager Ronald Wasson says the town commissioned its own study that year to determine whether the infrastructure of the 63-year-old causeway was “worth saving.”
Construction will be primarily to the Intracoastal Waterway bridge and will include replacement of the guardrails, fenders and cabling. Most of the causeway’s support columns will be stripped down to metal and refurbished with high-grade concrete.
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Also included in the makeover is the bridge operator’s control house, which will be redone and include updates to the generator system.
The only feedback to the proposal came from Councilman Joshua D. Fuller, who proposed the town consider guardrails to protect pedestrians. Wasson said the town had looked into the suggestion and found that they would actually be more dangerous for pedestrians.
Town staff projects that the restorations will take 18 months to complete.
“We will proceed shortly, pretty much right away,” Wasson told the council at the meeting.
He says that he does not anticipate there being a lot of traffic congestion from construction of the causeway, which connects Bay Harbor Islands to 123rd Street in North Miami.
“A lot of this will be done underneath the bridges so it won’t affect traffic that much,” Wasson said.
The council’s decision to award the contract to the lowest bidder, M&J Construction, was unanimous. Town staff had met with the contractor prior to the vote to negotiate a reduction of $590,737.79 from their original bid.
In other business, council members gave final approval to the budget for the next fiscal year.
Council members Solange Rousselot and Stephanie Bruder were absent from the second budget hearing. The remaining council members unanimously approved the tax rate of $4.90 per $1,000 of taxable property.
This year’s rate was $5.25.
“I think this is the best way to go, and hope for the best next year,” Councilwoman Kelly Reid said.
The new budget and tax rate will go into effect Oct.1.