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County Sets Cyclist-Friendly Rickenbacker Renovation

Miami-Dade County published on Monday a more detailed vision for a new, privatized Rickenbacker Causeway, creating a cyclist and pedestrian friendly update of the iconic roadway. The formal solicitation, known as an “RFP,” or request for proposal, encompasses a new Bear Cut Bridge, expanded parks, and traffic improvements, and raised roadways to combat sea level rise. Read the RFP here.

The revised documents also indicate the County has the option of separating the Rickenbacker project from the Venetian Causeway renovation at a later date.

The release of the County’s solicitation essentially is asking other companies to match the Plan Z concept, with responses due Nov 4.

The biggest unknowns? How much it will cost, how much tolls will increase, and what other revenue generating concessions will be allowed by the county? 

But Key Biscayne officials voiced disappointment at the fact that the RFP, prepared by County staff, does not allow for concepts that are different from the Plan Z concept. Those officials  worked intensely over the weekend seeking County changes to the document. 

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“They did take out some restrictions” of the Plan Z concept, Williamson said. “The proof is in the pudding.” Importantly, he said,  the Village is identified in the documents as a key stakeholder. 

“We definitely got some asks,” said Mayor Mike Davey, who stressed that future traffic improvements will have to account for anticipated expanded use of Virginia Key sought by the City of Miami. “I do share some concern that this continues to be a little bit cyclist-centric.” 

Attorney Eugene Stearns, one of the founders of Key Biscayne who has argued for a flyover or viaduct for Village-bound traffic, said including very specific details of Plan Z could tie the hands of competitors. 

“It’s frankly silly,” said Stearns. “If everyone has to follow the Z plan, you are stifling creativity,” 

He said the cycling path, which would end at Crandon Park, doesn’t even adequately address cyclist traffic. 

“It’s a cyclist bridge to nowhere.” 

The documents call for details such as 10-foot landscape buffers and having the bike path be an “independent structure” with a “look out platform” at the William Powell Bridge’s highest point. 

“It’s still too close to the Z plan, to be honest.” said Village Manager Steve Williamson. But Williamson said the Village did get the County to include a traffic study, sea level rise, and other critical components. 

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Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.

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