MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Frustrated Miami Beach residents and visitors said they were forced to wait for hours, and in some cases even walk back from the mainland, after the city enforced the eastbound closures of the three main causeways due to overwhelming spring break crowds.
Traffic cameras captured eastbound traffic at a standstill along the MacArthur Causeway near Jungle Island, Saturday night, shortly after police began enforcing an 8 p.m. curfew in the entertainment district and limited eastbound access to the city to residents, tourists and people headed to work.
“I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. It literally took me three and a half hours to get to my room last night,” said visitor Roslind Clark.
Sunday afternoon, Interim City Manager Raul Aguila addressed the lane closures.
“I want to apologize to some residents who were caught in considerably long traffic as a result of the causeway closures,” he said.
One visitor said police asked for proof that she was staying in the city.
“The police knocked on the window, made me throw them my keys to get back to the Beach. It was horrible,” said Clark.
Aguila and Miami Beach Mayor San Gelber announced Saturday that eastbound lanes of MacArthur, Julia Tuttle and Venetian causeways would be shut down from 10 p.m. until 6 p.m., with some exceptions.
Officials said residents, hotel guests, delivery drivers and people heading to work will be allowed entry through the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle causeways after they clear a checkpoint. No deliveries will be allowed after 2 a.m.
The Venetian Causeway, on the other hand, will only be open to residents during these hours.
Tourists and residents were forced to sit in traffic for hours. Visitor Maite Soto described a chaotic scene on the causeways.
“There were cops everywhere blocking off the bridge. There were no cars on the other side of the bridge,” she said, “and on our side of the bridge, there was a cluster of cars, all trying to U-turn, trying to get through, and no one could get through.”
Meanwhile, visitors like Soto had to walk nearly four miles.
“Our Uber had to drop us off at the bridge because he couldn’t cross the bridge, and we had to walk 40 minutes to our hotel down in Miami Beach,” she said.
The emergency measures over the weekend follow weeks of brawls, stampedes, confrontations with police and even a deadly shooting.
The unrest prompted city leaders to issue a state of emergency declaration.
Sunday afternoon, city commissioners opted to extend the curfew and causeway closures until the end of spring break or April 11.
“I am asking that we continue the causeway closures on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, or perhaps any other days during the week that I may deem necessary,” said Aguila.
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