Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Carmel on the Case: 79th Street Bridge
The aggravation continues for motorists on 79th Street in Miami after the bridge continues to get stuck in teh up position. A recent problem put the bridge out of commission for hours. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Police Officer: "The bridge is closed!"
It's never pretty when traffic has to be rerouted.
Police Officer: "No, that's why I have my car parked here, so you don't go that way."
And it was especially ugly on a recent Sunday afternoon when the west bridge on 79th Street was closed for hours.
Police Officer: "I know I'm going to get hit!"
When this bridge breaks it is a headache for motorists and police.
This Miami police officer had to direct traffic for two hours.
North Bay Village sends officers as well.
Chief Scott Israel: "To make sure we can immediately set up a detour and alternate routes, and that usually takes about two officers in our city."
Chief Scott Israel says his officers have had to do deal with the broken bridge nine times since March.
Some residents think that's way too often.
Marcel Campos: "I don't know where the money is going, you know. We pay a lot of taxes, and we have these problems."
But the State Department of Transportation, which is responsible for the bridge, maintains, is in good shape.
Frank Guyamier: "But, once in a while, you're going to have a glitch."
Frank Guyamier says in the most recent case a safety switch, one of 200, went bad.
As a result, a locking unit was jammed and would not could not open.
Frank Guyamier: "Once in a while you're going to have a switch like that go bad, and the thing is you don't want to continue operating the bridge in an unsafe condition."
Seven News first looked at the operation of the 35-year-old bridge this past summer because of the amount of time it is out of commission.
And while we discovered no one reviews daily maintenance logs, DOT insists that any significant problems would be caught during annual inspections.
Marcel Campos: "I think this is the most important bridge if you live in the village, if you live in North Bay Village."
With the population in North Bay Village on the rise, each time there is a problem on the bridge, the number of people inconvenienced is also growing.
Frank Guyamier: "And nobody likes to impact the people, and we feel awful. We try to respond as quickly as possible."
Carmel Cafiero: "Another factor in the need for repairs: the frequency of bridge openings; 261 times in September. DOT would like to see on-demand changed to scheduled openings. But that is up to the Coast Guard, which says the status may be reviewed sometime in the future.
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