Monday accident illustrates ongoing safety concerns on Rickenbacker Causeway

Key Biscayne Council member Frank Caplan said it took nearly two hours to arrive home after getting caught in Monday evening’s accident that shut down the Rickenbacker Causeway.

“When things go wrong, this critical linkage shuts down,” Caplan said during Tuesday night’s Village Council meeting.

A rollover accident, in which a car crossed over into eastbound traffic lanes, happened at around 10 p.m. Monday between the toll plaza and the William Powell Bridge.

It stopped traffic.

Compounding the problem were two events in the area on the Monday Columbus Day holiday -- a high-energy Glasshouse Miami 2021 Caribbean carnival concert at Miami Marine Stadium, which reportedly attracted between 4,000 and 6,000 people; and, a smaller event called Bacchanal Beach at Virginia Key Beach Park.

According to Key Biscayne Interim Police Chief Jason Younes, the ingress to Key Biscayne was shut down for an hour, while Marine Stadium delays ranged from 30-40 minutes.

Justo Rey, publisher of Islander News, said it took 6 traffic light changes to clear the MAST Academy intersection. “They were converting multiple lanes to one,” said Rey, noting it took over 45 minutes to clear though the area.

Younes said three people in the rollover vehicle were taken to area hospitals for treatment. There was no update on their condition Tuesday night.

“The reason for the delay is to secure the scene for critical evidence,” Younes said, adding that the scene was “completely cleared” by 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

It was a rare shutdown of the Causeway, although there was a major shutdown in 2019 caused when an allegedly drunk driver crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a car in which a Key Biscayne woman died.

“It’s scary (when something like this happens),” said Key Biscayne resident Ceci Sanchez, who pleaded with Council members Tuesday to look into solutions.

Key Biscayne Mayor Mike Davey understood the frustration, but “we’re doing the best we can with what we have.”

Safety improvements on the Causeway are currently in the news as part of a Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by Miami-Dade County for a major overhaul of the roadway and bridges.

Council member Luis Lauredo said the “flimsy fence” separating incoming and outgoing traffic lanes where the accident happened should be replaced with concrete barriers.

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