Miami Beach

Venetian Causeway to reopen noon Monday

Video: Venetian Causeway Scheduled To Reopen Feb. 29

Miami-Dade officials say the westernmost bridge, under construction since June 2015, is nearing completion.
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Miami-Dade officials say the westernmost bridge, under construction since June 2015, is nearing completion.

For once, something’s arriving on time in Miami.

After nine months of getting rerouted to other traffic-riddled causeways to travel between the cities of Miami and Miami Beach, commuters will be able to take the slower scenic route across Biscayne Bay on the reopened Venetian Causeway starting at noon Monday.

The 730-foot stretch of the west bridge connecting the Venetian Islands to the mainland was completely reconstructed. The old one — crummy and covered with metal plates in its weakest spots — badly needed to be replaced. Construction started June 1 last summer, shutting down a crucial thoroughfare and forcing pedestrians, bicyclists and cars to take the MacArthur or Julia Tuttle causeways. According to the county, the parts of the old bridge that were removed were submerged to create an artificial reef.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, County Commission Chairman Jean Monestime and county commissioners Sally Heyman and Audrey Edmonson will be on hand at the Miami entrance to the causeway to cut the ribbon for the $12.4 million project that is finishing on schedule. In addition to a new bridge, the roadway on the approach has been redone and new lighting installed.

After the 11 a.m. ceremony, the roadway and sidewalk is scheduled to be open for traffic around noon.

On Saturday, Belle Isle resident Scott Diffenderfer told the Miami Herald he was “thrilled” the causeway was reopening on time, even if it means more people will be rolling through the series of islands that have experienced a welcome side effect of a closed-off causeway — peace and quiet.

“Traffic has been so horrible on the other causeways that residents are happy to get relief,” he said. “The Venetian has been nice with less traffic but not worth the inconvenience of having to use the MacArthur or the increasingly gridlocked Tuttle.”

This headache caused by the west bridge be going away for now, but a migraine awaits on the horizon. Replacement of the west bridge was fast-tracked as an emergency project because of its poor condition. But the rest of the 90-year-old causeway is bad shape, too, and the Florida Department of Transportation is currently in the second year of a three-year, $2.8 million study to examine how the rest of the roadway will be updated or replaced — in either case, a long and expensive task. That study is supposed to be done in 2017.

A debate will likely ensue on just how to fix the historic causeway, the oldest in Florida. Built in 1926, the Venetian is on the National Register of Historic Places and has local protections from the cities of Miami and Miami Beach. Preservationists are expected to push for preserving as much of the old structures as possible and keeping the character of the low-scale causeway intact.

Engineers and residents will hash out the details during public workshops. But that’s for later. This week is for easier trips across the bay.

Cyclists will celebrate at 6 p.m. Monday with an “opening ride.” About 640 people have RSVP’d to the Facebook event.

Riders will meet at 5:30 p.m. at the shop at 18th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. They’ll pedal across the Venetian at 6 p.m., turning around at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach then ending at a happy hour at The Corner, 1035 N. Miami Ave.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech

Instructions for Venetian Residents with annual passes to avoid tolls

▪ Update the SunPass account. Make sure the SunPass account is current and with a positive balance.

Whenever the account becomes negative it automatically invalidates the annual plans and Toll By Plate charges begin accumulating on the customer’s account.

▪ Have ready the requirements for each plan:

- Venetian Owner. Copy of the property Tax or Warrantee deed, vehicle registration and SunPass number assigned to the vehicle

- Venetian Resident. Major Utility Bill such as FPL or water and sewer with the name and address on any of the Venetian Islands or Driver License reflecting Venetian address if it was issued after January 2010

-Venetian Commuter. Paystub reflecting employment address on the Venetian Causeway or West Ave

Once the customer receives the application, verify all the information, make any necessary changes and mail the application along with the requirements copy as soon as possible so we can update the account before the bridge reopening.

Information regarding Online Renewal will be available in the mailing.

The Division will be sending periodic emails to alert customers when the office will be open extra hours in order to accommodate customers with renewal.

Source: Belle Isle Blog