Could this year’s Art Basel in Miami Beach see the worst traffic ever for the famously hectic art fair week? The city’s famously clogged roads are going to be even worse this December thanks to the closure of the Venetian Causeway.
One of three passages between Miami Beach and Miami, the Venetian Causeway helps relieve congestion on the MacArthur Causeway to the south or the Julia Tuttle Causeway to the north. Visitors to Art Basel in years past need no reminder of how difficult it can be to get from Miami Beach to say, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, or Wynwood when traffic slows to a crawl on the causeways.
The nine-month, $12.4-million project, which began in late May, will rebuild the causeway’s western drawbridge. Built in 1927, the historic span was patched with metal plates during a renovation in the late 1990s. The need for a better solution became clear in March 2014, when a plate was dislodged and a bus became stuck in the gap.
The city is offering other transit options, which will include water taxis as well as a free trolley service running along the length of Miami Beach that connects the main convention center to the Design District.
The city is also testing out a new “Miami-Dade Art Express” bus route, which is also free. Running every 20 minutes between 11:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., the bus will provide an alternate mode of transportation across the Julia Tuttle Causeway.
Nick Korniloff, head of two fairs in Miami (Art Miami and its sister fair CONTEXT) and one in Miami Beach (Aqua Art Miami), is hopeful that the effects of the closure won’t be too dramatic. “The Venetian was convenient up until a point,” he told artnet News via e-mail, “but never came close to being able to handle the bulk of traffic that the interstates [on the other causeways] do.”