Written by Miami Today on April 17, 2019
Work is to begin the week of May 20 on a $67.2 million Florida Department of Transportation project to construct a new bridge to replace the 90-year-old bascule bridge along Southwest First Street from Southwest Second to Seventh avenues.
During the three years of construction, the bridge will be closed and a detour will be in place.
Besides replacing the bridge, the project will provide new bridge approach spans and a new bridge tender house, install new seawalls along the Miami River, provide new riverwalks under the bridge, and provide sidewalk connections to the bridge deck and Miami Greenway under the new bridge.
The Southwest First Street Bridge carries eastbound traffic into the heart of downtown. The bridge rises and opens to permit water traffic to pass.
More than 8,500 cars a day traverse the state-owned, state-operated span.
The old bridge, built at a cost of $300,000, was considered structurally deficient. Work to replace it was originally to begin in 2018 and be done in 2021. Now completion has been pushed back to June 2022.
The project will reduce the current four lanes of traffic on the bridge to three and add a 5-foot 5-inch wide dedicated bike lane between Southwest Second and Fifth avenues.
The Miami City Commission in 2015 declared four parcels of land on the river surplus and authorized the city manager to convey the land to the state at no cost for the bridge project.
The total contribution to the city from fees and other considerations from the overall project could reach about $118 million, Daniel Rotenberg, director of the city’s Department of Real Estate and Asset Management, said in 2015.
The city resolution said the land was sitting vacant, representing a maintenance cost and liability to the city.
The state is responsible for relocating the existing storm sewer outfall pipes at its expense.
The bridge is one of several bascule bridges on the river. It’s a companion to the West Flagler Street Bridge one block to the north, which carries westbound traffic out of downtown. Eastbound traffic on West Flagler Street is separated at Southwest 24th Avenue, through Little Havana, and ends at Biscayne Boulevard.
The Florida Department of Transportation has scheduled two meetings to answer questions about the bridge project. The first is from 5 to 7 p.m. April 23 at the Miami-Dade County Main Library, 101 W Flagler St. The second is 6 to 8 p.m. April 24 at the Miami-Dade County Hispanic Branch Library, 1398 SW First St. Parking is free for both meetings.