KEY BISCAYNE (CBSMiami) – With only one way in and one way out, Key Biscayne residents and cyclists are cringing at the thought of a year-long construction project on the Bear Cut Bridge.
Their worst fears became reality Friday, when multiple lanes of traffic were shut down for a full year. With the Sony Open just a couple of months away, residents and cyclists wonder how it will all pan out.
“I think of the tennis tournament and Fourth of July and say to myself, ‘Dear Lord, it’ll be impossible to get in and out,’” said Lourdes Zeik-Chivi.
The westbound lanes of the Bear Cut Bridge – the only bridge to and from Key Biscayne – have been closed to traffic (see below).
While the bridge’s foundation appears to be in good shape, but after state inspectors raised issues about the weight of heavy vehicles, they ordered the corroded steel beams and deck of the bridge’s westbound lanes be replaced.
Zeik-Chivi knows the work needs to be done, but anticipates a traffic nightmare starting Monday.
“We know what it’s like to get over the bridge during rush hour as it is, and I can’t imagine what it’ll be like now,” said Zeik-Chivi.
Traffic is down from four lanes to two: one lane heading toward Key Biscayne and the other toward the mainland. Bicyclists and motorists will be sharing the bike lane, something that concerns cyclist Jack Ruiz.
“It’s so very dangerous for us to be riding so close to the cars,” said Ruiz.
“Thankfully, the speed limit has been reduced,” cyclist Howard Srebnick added.
Despite that precaution, at least one cyclist accident has already been reported.
“Several bikers crashed into those barriers that had been haphazardly placed on the road,” Srebnick said. “One biker went down and broke his collar bone, shoulder bone and injured his hip.”
The project is set to take a year, but some want to get it moving along quicker.
“There’s so much talk about shovel-ready jobs in the political circles. Well, this is a shovel-ready job,” Ruiz said. “They should put a crew out here 24 hours to work there and they can knock it out in 30 to 60 days.”
County and village officials warn the cycling routes may change and ask both cyclists and drivers to be flexible.