As many of you know the west Venetian Causeway bridge is in need of repair and will be held in the “open” position as the work is completed. The estimation is that construction will begin sometime in November and will take approximately 9 months. In the mean time the residents will have only one access on and off the islands, through the East Venetian Causeway Bridge. Residents are concerned that during that time, if the east bascule bridge were to break as has happened several times in the recent past, their only access will be blocked.
The Coast Guard is recommending that during the repairs, the east bridge will open twice daily at 10:30am and at 7pm. For those of us concerned with the faulty bridge, this is unacceptable.
We urge everyone to contact the Coast Guard to express their concerns regarding the schedule proposed.
Below is a sample letter proposing the lock down. Please relay these general concerns in your own words as they will not accept duplicate letters.
All letters must must be identified by dock number: USCG–2014–0719
Please forward the letter addressed to The US Coast Guard to the address below before October 14, 2014 in one of the following 3 methods:
(1) Federal eRulemaking Portal:
(2) Fax: 202–493–2251.
(3) Mail or Delivery: Docket Management Facility (M–30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140,
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE.,
Washington, DC 20590–0001.
Deliveries accepted between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.,
Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.
The telephone number is 202–366–9329
Below is a link to the official notice of proposed rule making by the Coast Guard with instructions on submitting comments. Please refer to this link before submitting your letters.
Draft of proposed letter to US Coast Guard re plans to restrict East Bridge schedule:
Citizen Comments on Docket USCG–2014–0719
Drawbridge Operation Regulation;
Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach, FL
RE: 33 CFR Part 17, RIN 1625-AA09
Portions of the West Venetian Causeway Bridge are in need of emergency repairs. During these repairs, the West Venetian Causeway Drawbridge will be locked in the “open” position, the Western approach to the bascule mechanism will be removed and rebuilt. During this time the bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic. Therefore, the only access to the Venetian Islands will be via the East Venetian Causeway Drawbridge.
I do not believe the proposed drawbridge restrictions for the East Venetian Causeway Bridge during the course of the reconstruction are strict enough. I believe the East Venetian Causeway Bridge should remain closed to navigation (“locked down”) during the West Venetian Causeway Bridge construction period, because the East Venetian Causeway Bridge does not have the planned reliability required of a single access/egress bridge.
There are many communities where a single drawbridge provides the only vehicular link between the community and the outside world. In these situations it is important for the safety of the residents that the drawbridge is reliable. The community can justify the added expense of building and maintaining an extremely reliable bridge, because a failure of the bridge mechanism cannot be tolerated. Some communities choose to build a fire station past the bridge, so services can be maintained while the bridge is impassable.
The Venetian Causeway community connects to the outside world through both an East Bridge and a West Bridge. Each bridge serves as a backup for the other. If either bridge is stuck in the open position, emergency services can reach residents via the other bridge. With a dual bridge design it is not economically feasible to design and maintain the bridges to extremely high reliability. It is expected that one of the bridges will occasionally fail in the open position, and the other bridge will provide access for emergency vehicles.
The proposed restrictions do not account for the expected failures of the East Venetian Causeway Bridge. It is imperative for the safety of the residents of the Venetian Islands that the East Venetian Causeway Bridge be locked down and closed to marine traffic during this period. Should the bridge be allowed to open for marine traffic, we expect it to occasionally fail in the open position (this is not an uncommon failure mode for this particular bridge). During these failures, emergency vehicles will not be able to reach residents. This poses a significant and avoidable risk to life and property.
Of course, it is important to balance the needs of marine traffic against the safety needs of the residents of the Venetian Islands. Marine traffic currently crosses the Venetian Causeway either through the Miami Beach Channel (aka the Malloy Channel) which is spanned by the East Venetian Causeway Bridge, and the Intracoastal Waterway which is spanned by the West Venetian Causeway Bridge.
Currently both Venetian Bridges are on limited daytime schedules – they only open every half hour. During the West Venetian Causeway Drawbridge repairs, the bascule mechanism will be locked in the “open” position. This will provide increased access for marine traffic.
There is a precedent for this sort of lockdown. Circa 1998, the bascule mechanism in the East Venetian Causeway Bridge was replaced. During construction, a parallel temporary by-pass bridge was installed adjacent to the East Venetian Causeway Bridge. This temporary bridge was a fixed bridge, and could not open for marine traffic.
I strongly urge that during repairs of the West Venetian Causeway Bridge, that the West Venetian Causeway Bridge be locked in the “open” position, and the East Venetian Causeway Bridge be locked in the “closed” position. This solution addresses the safety concerns of Venetian Causeway residents, and provides enhanced marine traffic flow via the Intracoastal Waterway and the West Venetian Causeway Bridge.