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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – From the East, North and South there is the mother of all traffic jams for motorists trying to get to the city from the beach across the MacArthur Causeway.
It’s because the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has narrowed the entrance to the causeway to a single lane, creating a huge bottleneck.
“I think it’s a real inconvenience for the citizens of South Beach. It’s a real pain in the rear,” said beach resident James Winstead.
Two lanes to the causeway entrance have been closed for more than six weeks while FDOT repairs the underside, replacing old, degrading concrete and steel supports on the century old span, and replaces deteriorated concrete top pavement.
The traffic delay can be huge. One man said he had been sitting still at mid-morning for 10 minutes. Getting to the bridge can take up to an hour.
A cab driver said the delay can cost a fair number of fares.
“It’s a mess. Slow, very slow. It’s a mess,“ the taxi driver said.
So exasperated drivers are wondering why now?
“It’s a shame that FDOT can’t plan these things for the off-season, when we’re not expecting a lot of festivals, such as Art Basel and the triathlon,“ said beach resident June Savage.
“They have every right to be frustrated and angry,“ Miami Beach mayor Dan Gilbert said. But the mayor said there is no good season to repair a bridge. The MacArthur project will take another year. The city is pressing FDOT to hurry, and they are working six days a week almost around-the-clock. The county is going to suspend tolls on the Venetian Causeway during weekday rush to take some of the pressure off. And there is light at the end of the tunnel or bridge.
“This is a huge pain in the butt, frankly, and it’s going to hopefully end pretty soon, and the repairs the state will need to do after that should be a lot easier on us,“ Gilbert said.
The bottleneck to the city should be opened up in two weeks or so, although FDOT says one Westbound lane could be blocked until mid-December.
Next week two lanes going East, to the beach, will be closed for four days but only late night to early morning. FDOT says the MacArthur will see periodic lane closures for another nine months.
The city has made all of its traffic cameras available online so motorists can check traffic conditions at multiple locations. To access the traffic cams go to miamibeachfl.gov.
Traffic on the beach might be further interrupted Monday when high King tides are expected to peak and cause some street flooding.