Miami Beach

Jet skis have corroded the MacArthur Causeway. That’s bad news for your commute

Traffic congestion on the MacArthur Causeway heading east from Miami. Traffic has gotten significantly worse after the state began emergency repairs on the bridge spanning Miami and Miami Beach, prompting Miami-Dade to lift rush-hour tolling on the nearby Venetian Causeway.
Traffic congestion on the MacArthur Causeway heading east from Miami. Traffic has gotten significantly worse after the state began emergency repairs on the bridge spanning Miami and Miami Beach, prompting Miami-Dade to lift rush-hour tolling on the nearby Venetian Causeway. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

Blame the jet skiers for the traffic woes you’re going to be feeling soon on the MacArthur Causeway.

Jet Skis, Waverunners and other personal watercraft shooting salt water up at the underside of the causeway have caused extensive corrosion at the Miami Beach end of the bridge, necessitating repairs to beams and columns, according to the engineer overseeing the project. It’s also time to replace the top three inches of concrete on the surface of the bridge.

That means Miami Beach residents and commuters should brace themselves for a long stretch of traffic headaches on the main causeway connecting South Beach to mainland Miami.

The Florida Department of Transportation began the two-year, $12.9 million rehabilitation project on the MacArthur Causeway’s East Bridge on June 7, but it hasn’t yet affected traffic.

Beginning the week of July 23, construction will cause westbound lane closures on the causeway between Terminal Island and Alton Road. During most of the project the lane closures will involve only one lane at a time, but beginning in mid-August a second lane will be closed for approximately two weeks as crews replace the surface of the bridge. After work on the westbound side is completed, likely in December, crews will begin repairs on the eastbound side.

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Corrosion underneath the MacArthur Causeway East Bridge. Florida Department of Transportation

FDOT hopes to finish work on the westbound lanes before Art Basel and pause construction during the event, which typically brings heavy traffic to Miami Beach, said John Bolton, the engineer overseeing the project.

Construction crews plan to close lanes during non-peak hours, which include 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and weekends, 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Friday and Saturday, according to FDOT. The entire project is slated for completion by May 2020.

“There’s a substantial amount of work that needs to be done to the bridge,” said Melissa Rodriguez, a community outreach specialist with HML Public Outreach, a company assisting FDOT with the project. “Some of the benefits of this project are that the rehabilitation is going to extend the life of the bridge and it’s going to improve the general safety for all the folks that drive it, all the motorists, the bicyclists, and so forth,” she said, speaking at a public meeting at Miami Beach City Hall on Wednesday night.

More information about the project, including lane closures, can be found at www.fdotmiamidade.com.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to clarify that the primary cause of the corrosion was determined by engineers overseeing the project.
Contact Kyra Gurney at 305-376-3205 and @KyraGurney
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