The news hit Miami Beach residents back in April like an early season tropical depression: the decaying Venetian Causeway would have to close for the better part of a year for a rebuilding project. For residents who've lived through more than a year of Alton Road traffic-pocalypse, losing the causeway would be a nightmare.
That construction was originally projected to start this fall, but SoBe drivers can hold off on the extra therapy sessions for another few months. City officials now tell Riptide work won't start until next spring.
"We anticipate awarding a contract to demolish and rebuild approximately 700 feet of the West Venetian Bridge during the spring of 2015," says Francisco Calderon, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade County Public Works Department. "Construction is expected to begin shortly thereafter and last for as long as 9 months."
The problems started last March when a city bus partially fell through the westernmost drawbridge, near the old Miami Herald headquarters.
A month later, engineers confirmed that the whole bridge needed to be replaced.
There has been some discussion of the city finding a way to do the construction in pieces so that pedestrians and cyclists could keep using the Venetian, which is by far the safest bike and walking route between South Beach and the city.
But Calderon says that's not going to happen.
"During construction the bridge will be completely closed to vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists," he says. "Affected travelers should use the MacArthur or Julia Tuttle Causeways."
On the upside, the new schedule means Venetian construction won't start until after the peak Art Basel season on the Beach. And with any luck, the Alton Road project to install flood pumps will be nearing an end by the time the Causeway shuts down.
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