Routine repairs are expected to begin in the Spring of 2023, officials with the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works explained during a public meeting Thursday evening.
Estimated to cost just under $2.5 million, the project will address deficiencies found at and below the driving surface during the last inspection of the bridge in June 2020. County officials are continuing to work on a full replacement of the aging span, but that $90 million initiative is still years away.
The final design plans were completed in October and the county is now in the process of securing the necessary permitting. Construction work is expected to take about six months, with work on track for beginning in the Spring and being completed by the Fall.
Details of the project were explained during the virtual public meeting, with only a few members of the public asking questions. The meeting was scheduled for two hours, but with few questions or public comment, wrapped in about 35 minutes.
Overnight temporary lane closures will be required in order to complete the repairs at the deck level. Closures will occur from 9:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. to minimize traffic congestion.
The road closures will only occur during a period of about one and a half months in two phases.
During the first phase, there will be one lane of traffic open in each direction, without shoulders, and the special use path will remain open on the north side of the bridge. During the second phase, there will be one lane of traffic open in each direction, with inside shoulders, and the special use path will remain open on the south side of the bridge.
As plans move forward with repairs, so does a master plan by the village and the county to ensure a new Rickenbacker Causeway meets the needs of island residents, workers commuting on and off Key Biscayne, and other stakeholders.
The village has developed its own overall draft for the Rickenbacker that has been submitted to Mayor Danielle Levine Cava’s administration for review, although the plan is still in the conceptual phase.
Newly-elected Mayor Joe Rasco was among the village officials in attendance.
A couple residents raised concerns about the overnight closures, especially the ability of emergency vehicles to get across.
“We will not close the entire bridge down,” Miguel Soria, assistant director of Highway Bridge Engineering Division of the department, assured the public.
Built in 1944, the Bear Cut Bridge, part of Rickenbacker Causeway, is one of three connecting Key Biscayne to the Miami mainland.
Ryan Fisher, manager of the Highway Bridge Engineering Division of the department, explained to one resident that the repairs were routine needed to maintain the older bridge. The repairs should expand the bridge’s lifespan another 10 to 15 years.
“Once bridges reach this type of age, you’re going to be maintaining them in this manner about every eight to 10 years to keep them in a state of good repair,” Fisher said.