On May 13, the Florida Department of Transportation hosted a public workshop at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden to provide vital updates regarding the on-going Project Development & Environment Study involving the Venetian Causeway. Both the City of Miami and Miami Beach recognize the corridor as a historic landmark that is also revered as a favorite scenic route for bicyclists, walkers and runners attempting to cross over between the main land and the beach. The bridge was originally built is 1926 and is currently in needs of major repairs due to deterioration from salt water corrosion.
The engineering team presented the public with a series of alternatives to consider and provide feedback. No alternative will be an easy decision as each option comes with significant trade-offs involving safety, project costs and construction time. Besides the “Do nothing” option, the next two options are to either rehabilitate the current bridges, or move forward with complete replacement. Engineers offered a list of rehabilitation options. Rehabilitating the bridges offers the best chance of salvaging the causeway’s historic landmark designation. A member of the Historic Preservation board was present and advised that the rehabilitation option provided the least adverse effects in regard to protecting the the historic designation, but unfortunately can not be guaranteed. This option would also be the most costly.
The third alternative is to completely replace the bridge with entirely new structures. While surprisingly less expensive than the rehabilitative option, it also would take nearly 8 years to complete, and most surely lose the historic designation. Audience members were displeased to hear that the bridges’s iconic “X” railing ornamentation would mostly have to change due to its lack of safety standards (the rail gaps are large enough for a child to fit through).
Positive news involves a plan to include a designated bike lanes and wider sidewalks to improve the pedestrian experience along the bridges. At the end of the presentation, the audience was asked to fill out a form that ranked their favorite choice among those presented. Please go to this link to visit the official website and learn more about the PD & E study.
For an update about the Venetian’s closing, see Miami Herald.