The Venetian Causeway is Miami's oldest bay-spanning bridge and the best bet for cyclists and pedestrians looking to get from South Beach to downtown. It's also been an unbelievable mess lately. Ever since a bus punched a hole in a deteriorating bridge earlier this year, the County has been plotting a mass repair that will shut the whole thing down for up to nine months.
This morning brought more misery for commuters. The Causeway was closed down indefinitely by malfunctioning drawbridges, snarling traffic in both directions.
Update: The bridges have reopened at 1:30 p.m., per Miami Beach Police.
The problem started around 10 a.m. this morning when the easternmost drawbridge on the causeway refused to completely close. As traffic piled up behind the safety arms, frustrated drivers and cyclists watched the bridge repeatedly reopen and then stop a few feet short of closing.
Police soon showed up and tried their own luck at getting the bridge to close but to no avail. Eventually, officers put up yellow police tape and told commuters to turn around.
Miami-Dade County, which operates and maintains the bridge, hasn't returned a call from Riptide about the problem.
But a police source says the issue appears to be related to the computers that control the bridges and the safety arms. Both the easternmost and westernmost drawbridges are malfunctioning at the moment.
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Engineers say the 87-year-old causeway needs major refurbishment to meet safety requirements; at a minimum, the bridge that connects to downtown next to the old Miami Herald building needs to be totally replaced after the bus incident.
Work could start this fall on the improvements.
Update: Miami Beach police say the drawbridges are working again: