KEY BISCAYNE (CBS4) – With tennis comes traffic to Key Biscayne.
The Sony Open Tennis Tournament began Monday with qualifying matches at the Crandon Park Tennis Center.
“This year we were kind of worried because of the traffic problems on the bridge, the Bear Cut Bridge,” Key Biscayne resident Laura Villareal said.
In order to get to Crandon Park, drivers must traverse the Bear Cut Bridge, not an easy task these days as construction has narrowed parts of the road.
“They modified the lanes so hopefully we won’t have as much traffic, which I doubt,” Villareal explained.
There are currently two lanes of traffic open in each direction. The eastbound lanes have been narrowed and the westbound lanes are divided by a median.
Pedestrians and cyclists are limited to the outside lane on the westbound side of the bridge.
The change of traffic flow has prompted Sony Open organizers to urge guests to allow plenty of extra time to arrive for the tournament.
“January 4th when we first found out about the Bear Cut Bridge and the issues they were having, (it) was a huge concern,” Tournament Director Adam Barrett told CBS 4′s Lauren Pastrana.
Those concerns stemmed from a Florida Department of Transportation report which claimed parts of the bridge were in serious disrepair.
The steal beams, or girders, supporting the road were corroding rapidly.
Miami-Dade County moved to rehab the bridge connecting Virginia Key and Key Biscayne to the tune of $31 million dollars.
But according to our news partners at The Miami Herald, several concerned Key Biscayne residents want an entirely new bridge built.
One long-time resident even started a website about it, saverickenbacker.com.
The Village Council passed a resolution on March 5th which said “the need exists to replace the Bear Cut Bridge altogether.”
Drivers expressed concerns about the bridge Monday.
“Hopefully nothing happens,” Villareal said. “I think they’re taking the measures. But I think it took too long.”
Villareal said she’d seen photos of the underside of the bridge and was surprised to see the corrosion.
Other drivers shared her sentiment.
“Hopefully it’s safe for drivers. I know it’s going to be a lot of traffic,” Fernando Echeverri said.
Barrett said tournament organizers have been working with the county to make sure their guests will be able to arrive safely.
“There’s a much bigger political environment out there as to what the bridge should be,” Barrett explained. “Our concern is to make sure that during our 2 weeks there are 4 lanes of traffic, two in two out, to allow our guests to enjoy our tennis, our event, and to really enjoy the South Florida weather and Key Biscayne.”
Free shuttles to Crandon Park will be offered to visitors who park on Virginia Key.
The tournament runs through March 31st.