The westbound lanes of Bear Cut Bridge, connecting Key Biscayne to Virginia Key, were closed indefinitely Friday morning amid discoveries of structural deficiencies by both county and state officials. To keep traffic on the bridge open to the public, the two eastbound lanes on this portion of Rickenbacker Causeway were converted to a one-way lane for each direction. The emergency closing will provide county officials the time to full evaluate the extent of the damage, and begin repairs to the affected areas.
Two sections of the bridge, first built in 1944, have suffered extensive corrosion because of years of exposure to salt water. The most recent report conducted by the Florida Department of Transportation cited portions of the Bear Cut Bridge as having significant structural deficiencies. Per its policies, this citation would mean that the bridge would need to receive repairs to correct the damage or be replaced within a six year period. It does not, however, automatically indicate that the structure is unsafe.
Both drivers and cyclers ran into a mess of delays and confusion throughout the day on Friday as a result of the road closures. The one-way lanes caused heavy traffic delays. Bicyclists were rerouted to a path normally designated for pedestrians. Officials for both the village of Key Biscayne and Miami-Dade County are concerned about the future effects of this closure – specifically as it relates to the upcoming Sony Open, the annual tennis tournament held at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in March.
While the eastbound lanes of the Bear Cut Bridge did not receive the same citation, to minimize any further impact, weight restrictions on trucks were also implemented. Surrounding businesses have already begun feeling the effects of the emergency closures to the bridge. Traffic for deliveries to hotels and other business have been adversely affected. There is also rising concern about how emergency vehicles will be able to respond if it gets entangled in pending traffic jams.
All lanes in both directions on the remainder of Rickenbacker Causeway remain open. Early estimates report that work to repair the affected portions of Bear Cut Bridge could possibly take as long as a year to complete.
Miami-Dade to shut down westbound lanes on Bear Cut Bridge from Key Biscayne
Bear Cut Bridge Lanes Closed After Rickenbacker Causeway Deemed Structurally Deficient
Report: Bear Cut Bridge Westbound Lanes Closed For Up To 1 Year