The federal government and the state have given the go-ahead for the next phase of plans to replace 11 of the 12 historic Venetian Causeway bridges that connect Miami and Miami Beach. This work will be done after the causeway turns 100 years old.
Last week, the Florida Department of Transportation sent out a memo saying that the state and the Federal Highway Administration had agreed to the location and design concept. This means that Miami-Dade County can now finish the design.
Next, a contractor would start to replace the short-span reinforced concrete arch-beam bridges so that the scenic 1926 road across six man-made residential islands in the middle of Biscayne Bay could start two and a half months after the notice to proceed. A double-leaf, slightly higher bascule bridge would take about four years to build near Miami Beach, and it would be done at best in 2029.
In May of last year, county commissioners agreed to take over a state contract signed with EAC Consulting in 2012 for $10.6 million to make the plans. EAC had already done a study of the project’s development and its impact on the environment. The county changed the contract so that EAC could do the final design and plan preparation for the county. The contract was also changed to include a $969,199 contingency for work that didn’t go as planned.
The National Register of Historic Places added all 12 bridges to the causeway in 1989. There are 10 fixed bridges and 2 moveable bridges. The bridge was also named a local historic landmark by the cities of Miami and Miami Beach.
The state memo from last week said that the bridge closest to the mainland has already been replaced and is not part of the work plan.
At first, the county put the bridge replacements into an unsolicited plan from a group of companies called the Plan Z Consortium to build, finance, run, and take care of the Rickenbacker Causeway. Pressure was put on the county to leave the Venetian Causeway out of the plans for the package, so it was taken out of the plans, which were then completely scrapped last year.