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Date of Issue: October 18, 2007

DOT to close bridge for 75 days

Renovation of the Anna Maria Island Bridge will require the closure of the structure for about 75 days, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

“We’re trying to figure when the best time to do that is,” said DOT spokesperson Cindy Clemmons-Adente. “But with the renovation, there’s no way around it.”

The DOT plans to spend about $9.1 million to renovate the 50-year-old, two-lane bascule bridge. The work - intended to give the bridge at least another 10 years of life - will take at least a year.

“Ramping up” work - acquiring materials and other preparation work - already is under way, said Clemmons-Adente, of the DOT’s Bartow office.

Work at the bridge will begin in early January, she added.

Clemmons-Adente said state transportation officials are trying to work with Manatee County commissioners, as well as Island officials, to determine the best time to close the bridge to traffic. Local emergency management officials also are involved in the planning.

“We’re hoping to decide within the next couple of weeks,” she said.

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, who learned of the planned bridge closure over the weekend, expressed concern for Island commerce and commutes.

“I think it is going to be a logistical and economical nightmare,” Bohnenberger said, adding that he initially thought the renovation was going to be done by closing just one lane of traffic at a time.