Drivers heading down to Key Biscayne will need to bring some extra change over the next few months.
In order to pay for a swifter reconstruction of Bear Cut Bridge, the crumbling easternmost span of the Rickenbacker Causeway, non-resident motorists will soon pay an increased toll of $1.75,
WSVN reports -- making it 25 cents more expensive to head to Virginia Key, Crandon Park, and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.
Miami-Dade lawmakers say the toll increase coupled with a quicker bidding process will expedite the refurbishment and rebuilding of the 1944 bridge, where neglected beams and girders have deteriorated so badly that multiple lanes were shut down to traffic in an emergency decision earlier this month.
A late December inspection of the bridge by the Florida Department of Transportation deemed it "structurally deficient," a rating the Miami Herald reports it has received since at least June 2008, according to D.C. non-profit Transportation for America.
Since the emergency land closures, traffic has been snarled to and from Key Biscayne with only one lane opened in both directions.
The Herald reports the now-$31 million project, which will be covered by bonds issued against toll income, could begin in a matter of weeks. And County Mayor Carlos Gimenez pledged to speed up the switch from the Rickenbacker's C-Pass toll program to the more universal state-run SunPass, so we've got that going for us.
Cyclists, meanwhile, were not pleased with plans offered earlier this week to create a walled-off lane for bikes and pedestrians on the Rickenbacker, one of the most popular stretches of roadway for runners, walkers, and bikers.
"There are so many things wrong with the current plans that it is difficult to figure out where to start," wrote South Florida Bike Coalition's Markus Wagner. "It is unclear how separation between fast and slow cyclists, runners and walkers going in two directions is supposed to be managed... This episode shows how little the County -– and its mayor -– support non-motorized traffic. Not only is the situation made more difficult, but rather it is also made more dangerous."