Brickell Avenue Bridge work to last into 2021
Work continues on the state transportation department’s Brickell Avenue Bridge rehabilitation project.
The heavily traveled bridge connecting Brickell to Downtown is undergoing repairs and the addition of gates to stop pedestrians, thereby reducing time the bridge needs to remain open for passage of boats and ships.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) began the bridge rehabilitation project during the week of Feb. 10, along the SR 90/US 41/Brickell Avenue Bridge over the Miami River.
“While unforeseen situations have occurred on this project, they have been resolved as soon as possible by following the proper protocol,” said Sergies Duarte, senior community outreach specialist, in an email to Miami Today.
“The project could potentially be expedited by approximately three weeks, weather permitting,” he said.
The work being performed along the Brickell Avenue Bridge includes adding pedestrian gates, repairing mechanical and electrical bridge components, painting the bridge and replacing lighting at the Tequesta family sculpture, bridge barrier and Riverwalk.
This project is currently scheduled to be completed in early 2021 with an estimated cost of $4 million.
FDOT notes the construction schedule may change due to bad weather or other unexpected conditions.
“The span lock system has been replaced on the northbound side of the Brickell Avenue Bridge and crews are now working on replacing the span lock system on the southbound side and painting the bridge. Nightly detours are in place from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. when performing work,” Mr. Duarte said.
Temporary lane closures can occur during non-peak hours on non-event nights Sunday through Thursday from:
■10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. southbound.
■7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. northbound (1 lane closure).
■10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. northbound (2 lane closures).
It will be necessary to temporarily detour vehicular traffic at times. Pedestrian access will be maintained on one side of the roadway at all times, according to FDOT.
Related Miami River waterway restrictions include:
■Single leaf openings during the work hours of 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.
■Four-hour advance notice for a full opening during from 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.
■Associated construction equipment may be located beneath the non-opening span during work hours.
■Vessels able to pass without an opening beneath the non-obstructed span may do so at any time.
■During non-work hours, associated equipment will be located outside of the main channel and not interfere with drawbridge operations or obstruct the channel. All equipment will be properly lighted.
For years, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the Miami River Commission have been advocating for improvements to the bridge, including support for the addition of pedestrian gates, to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from racing to beat the opening.
It was suggested in 2016 that pedestrians might be part of the gridlock created when the Brickell Avenue Bridge is raised.
When the bridge tender sounds the alarm, pedestrians are supposed to stop and wait until the bridge span lifts, vessels pass and the span returns to its base. But many don’t want to wait and charge across the bridge anyway.
The bridge tender can’t engage the mechanism to lift the span until everyone is off the bridge, and waiting for pedestrians can sometimes add 10 minutes to a traffic standstill.
Various measures were discussed to control the problem, including having police or public service aides, like those who worked in the Downtown Development Authority’s White Glove traffic program, on hand to ticket offenders. But the situation persisted.
In July 2016, the DDA, which has historically challenged what it says are improper bridge openings, added among its requests to the state transportation department and the US Coast Guard a provision for a stop bar or gate to deter those who can’t wait a few minutes to cross the bridge on foot.
The hope is that preventing them from crossing against the signal will help alleviate traffic jams for everyone else.
FDOT’s project webpage at fdotmiamidade.com offers sign-ups for email updates on the detours and overall progress of the project.
The contractor is Seacoast Inc.