The Bridge Before Cocoplum Circle is in Need of Repair
On any given day, you can sit in Ingraham Park on the Coral Gables Waterway and watch well more than a thousand cars cross the Le Jeune Road bridge to Cartagena Plaza, aka the Cocoplum Circle, and vice versa from Sunset Drive and Old Cutler Road. What you won’t see are any fire trucks, EMS vehicles or 18-wheelers. Why? Because the bridge would likely collapse under their weight.
Now 75 years old, the bridge “doesn’t meet any of the design standards of a modern day bridge,” says Alice Bravo, director of transportation and public works for Miami-Dade County. “It has reached the end of its design life.”
Bravo, along with engineering consultant Steve Sean, recently addressed the Coral Gables City Commission on the urgent need to replace the aging span. Sean was even more poignant than Bravo. “It is one of the bridges in the worst condition in the county,” he said. To illustrate that point, he showed the commission a series of disturbing photos of gaping rust holes in the support beams underneath. “This bridge can only take about 16 tons. A fully loaded fire truck can weigh 41 tons.”
To avert a future disaster, the county wants a new bridge built by the year 2023. Design work should be done by this fall, after which workers will construct a replacement bridge on the site. If all goes well, the old bridge will be closed down for just two or three months in the summer of 2022 while the new one is put into place.
The bad news: traffic will have to be diverted through nearby neighborhoods that summer. The other bad news: trees on either end of the bridge will have to be removed. The good news: the county will pick up the tab. The other good news: fire and emergency vehicles can use the new bridge to reach nearby homes more rapidly.