Miami Beach

Venetian Causeway’s east drawbridge expected to close in late October

The Venetian Causeway bridge reopened in February after nine months of reconstruction. Now the work — and closures — will move to the eastern end.
The Venetian Causeway bridge reopened in February after nine months of reconstruction. Now the work — and closures — will move to the eastern end. Miami Herald File

The east drawbridge on the Venetian Causeway will be closed for up to 45 days for repairs in late October, but officials will lock the bridge down during Art Basel if work spills over into the first week of December.

Earlier this month, Miami-Dade officials advised neighbors that there are backup plans to ensure emergency services will remain available to Venetian Islands residents throughout the closure. Police from the Beach and the city of Miami will coordinate responses to calls, and a police officer will be on the Venetian Causeway 24/7 with an auto defibrillator.

Electrical work that won’t affect traffic has already begun underneath the bridge. By late October or early November, the county expects to close off vehicular traffic while the bridge is in the up position for mechanical work.

But if work isn’t done by Dec. 1, the bridge will be locked down and open for traffic during Art Basel, which brings loads of traffic across all major causeways connecting the mainland to the Beach, including the Venetian.

Jack Hartog, president of the Venetian Way Neighborhood Alliance, said community members were satisfied with the contingency plans. It will still be an inconvenience for those who use the causeway to get to Miami Beach — another headache after dealing with the nine-month closure of the westernmost bridge for a total rebuild that was completed in late February.

The whole causeway needs extensive work, and the Florida Department of Transportation is still examining the structure to determine the extent of the rehabilitation. That study won’t be done until 2017.

But officials insist the east drawbridge and the fixed bridge connecting Belle Isle to South Beach need work now. The work on the fixed bridge, which will include lane closures but keep vehicular traffic open, is expected to be done by May.

For now, even thought they wish the east drawbridge would just remain locked down until more extensive repairs begin in a few years, the residents felt comfortable with the reassurances they can be reached by police and firefighters during an emergency.

“We’ll have to see if they follow through,” Hartog said.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech

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