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Date of Issue: January 12, 2006

Hold that bridge

Islanders and Longboat Key residents expecting that the U.S. Coast Guard this month would change the bridge opening times for the two bridges connecting Anna Maria Island to the mainland from every 20 minutes to half-hour openings have got a "longer wait" coming.

Manatee-Sarasota Metropolitan Planning Organization Director Mike Howe said he was informed by the Coast Guard last week that because of some opposition to the proposal from area boaters, the USCG has determined that a public hearing on the issue is warranted.

Because of the lengthy advertising process, said Howe, the earliest meeting isn't likely until March.

After that, he said, "government is slow and we will have to wait until all the right steps are taken. We may not see any implementation until April, May or June."

In other words, said Howe, the bridges will open every 20 minutes on demand for yet another tourist season.