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Date of Issue: December 31, 2008

New year brings new bridge focus

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The Anna Maria Island Bridge, which continues to undergo a multi-million-dollar rehab, is the subject of a study for possible replacement. The bridge is on Manatee Avenue from Perico Island to Anna Maria Island. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

The new year will bring a new focus on the Anna Maria Island Bridge as the state explores possible replacement of the 51-year-old structure.

The $10 million rehab of the bridge on Manatee Avenue from Anna Maria Island to Perico Island dominated local concern in 2008. The rehab work, which is ongoing, required the closure of the bridge for more than a month in the fall.

Now the Florida Department of Transportation is conducting a project development and environment study on alternatives to the existing drawbridge.

The study involves data collection, development and analysis of alternatives to the bridge on Manatee Avenue. The study takes into account social, cultural, natural and physical environments, as well as evaluates the impact of various alternatives on air quality, historic or archeological sites, land use, and community cohesion.

Earlier this month, the FDOT held a forum at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach to discuss alternatives and collect citizens’ comments.

The alternatives include:

  • No new bridge, which would involve routine maintenance of the existing bridge.
  • Rehabilitation of the bridge when needed, which would extend the life of the structure about 25 years.
  • A low-level drawbridge, similar to the existing bridge, with a 21.5-foot vertical clearance when the bridge is closed.
  • A mid-level drawbridge with a 45-foot vertical clearance when the bridge is closed, which would accommodate about 38 percent of the boats that pass underneath the AMI Bridge.
  • A high-level fixed-span bridge with a 65-foot vertical clearance, which would allow about 99 percent of the current boating traffic to pass under the structure.

Comments, according to DOT spokesperson Cindy Clemmons-Adente, were due to the DOT on Dec. 31, after The Islander’s deadline this week.

She said the DOT would then review the comments, release the results of the public survey, and then, in March, hold a public hearing on its findings.

The DOT will make its determination, which would be presented to the U.S. Coast Guard for review.

The DOT plans to have approval for the study from the Coast Guard by May, Clemmons-Adente said.

The next stages, according to the DOT, would be design, right-of-way acquisition and construction — none of which have been placed in the DOT’s tentative work plans through 2014.

 

For the record

For more information about the bridge study, go to www.annamariaislandbridge.com.

The Web site includes a survey for people to fill out. The deadline for comment at this stage of the project is Dec. 31.

People can also e-mail Chris Piazza of the Florida Department of Transportation at chris.piazza@dot.state.fl.us.