Venetian Causeway Closed For Repairs

Miami's Venetian Causeway is shutting down for repairs for at least nine months.

The westernmost stretch of the historic bridge closed Monday for a $12.4 million renovation project. It's getting an upgrade and emergency repairs to ensure the Venetian is around for many more years to come.

Officials say 730 feet of weakened bridge closest to Miami currently patched by metal plates will be replaced. The closure will seal off direct access from the mainland to the Venetian Islands and Miami Beach.

After a hole opened up last year on the 90-year-old structure, the county declared the repairs an emergency.

Whether drivers use it as a shortcut or for the scenery, the closure of this vital artery leading to and from Miami Beach will have an impact.

For 30 years Betty Godur relied on the Venetian Bridge to get on and off Miami Beach. On Monday, she had to find a new way to get to her clients on the mainland.

"Now it's a shame that we have to go all the way around to come home... even today for the first time I did it automatically, I came to the bridge and I realize they closed it," Godur said. "It's hard in the beginning then you get used to it. When they open up we will be happy."

Godur lives on the island's edge. She and all the other residents of the Venetian Islands and Miami Beach will have to take alternate routes, such as the Julia Tuttle and MacArthur Causeways, until at least the end of the year. But accessing the McArthur will be challenging as construction on Alton Road currently blocks the ramp.

"I was coming back and actually it's really bad because construction is continuing on Alton Road, so whatever took me before 15 minutes, now represents another half hour... it is inconvenient," said Godur.

Built in 1927, the Venetian Causeway is considered both a local and federal historic landmark. In 1989, the federal government listed the causeway on the National Register of Historic Places.

For the second time since 1927 the west bridge is getting an upgrade. This also means cyclists who use the popular route also have to share the 195 and 395 expressways. A detour they say is an accident waiting to happen.

"It's quite obviously not designed for bicycle traffic and pedestrian traffic. We've got 18 wheelers doing 50-plus miles-per-hour within feet of a cyclist or pedestrian," said resident Howard Srebnick.

The Florida Department of Transportation said both the 195 and 395 have have the minimum safety standards for bicycles.

Contractor GLF Construction says it should finish the job sometime between December and February 2016.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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