Bear Cut Bridge Lanes Closed After Rickenbacker Causeway Deemed Structurally Deficient (VIDEO)

01/04/2013 08:43 am ET | Updated Jan 05, 2013

Miami-Dade's infrastructure problems don't stop at a sewage system "held together by chewing gum."

Emergency lane closures were implemented indefinitely on the Rickenbacker Causeway Thursday night after two segments of its bridges were found to be structurally deficient.

Both westbound lanes of Bear Cut Bridge -- the span which links Virginia Key with Key Biscayne -- will be closed to traffic. Cars traveling east and west are now limited to one lane each of the two remaining eastbound lanes, and commercial trucks now require permitting because of weight restrictions.

"These measures are proactive steps to reduce further deterioration of the bridge in the interest of public safety," wrote County Mayor Carlos Gimenez in a memo, noting that section of the causeway was originally built in 1944.

But according to the Miami Herald, the issue -- corroded steel beams or girders -- is nothing new:

The latest FDOT quarterly inspection records, released Wednesday, show Bear Cut Bridge was inspected Dec. 26 and found to be “structurally deficient” — a national rating that indicates the bridge should be replaced or repaired within six years. The bridge has received that rating since at least June 2008, according to Transportation for America, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that compiles federal bridge inspection data.

...The latest FDOT records do show a significant drop in the Bear Cut Bridge’s “sufficiency rating,” which considers several factors to determine whether a bridge should be repaired or replaced. That rating dropped to 21 from 66 in its previous inspection, on June 27.

The Herald also notes that some 70,000 bridges in the U.S., about 11.5 percent, have been determined to be "structurally deficient," so the problem isn't just limited to Miami-Dade's signature negligence. (How comforting.)

Though problems were also found on West Bridge, which rises immediately east of the Rickenbacker toll booths, it remains open.

For now, prepare for heavy backups if you're heading to Key Biscayne -- especially during the Sony Open tennis tournament in March.

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