The Florida Department of Transportation is seeking public input on the future of the Cortez Bridge that links Bradenton Beach to the mainland.
As part of the project development and environment study required before any major bridge project can begin, the DOT will hold a series of public meetings in the coming months to solicit suggestions and comments on the future of the bridge.
The first of the public hearings will be held 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, at Kirkwood Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 6101 Cortez Road W., Bradenton.
The DOT study is concerned with the .9 mile stretch of State Road 684/Cortez Road that extends from the traffic light at Gulf Drive and Cortez Road in Bradenton Beach east to 124th Street West in Cortez.
According to the DOT, bridge inspection reports conducted between 2008 and 2012 show the bridge status is functionally obsolete and structurally deficient due to a lack of shoulders, 10-inch concrete curbs separating the travel lanes from the sidewalk and old-style bridge railings.
DOT staffed a booth at the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival Feb. 16-17, and distributed surveys to launch the Cortez Bridge PD&E study.
The survey includes several questions about the bridge and offers people a chance to share their ideas regarding proposed improvements. There were 168 surveys collected at the festival and in a 10-day period following the event. Survey results indicate 56 percent of those people completing the survey favor rehabilitation of the Cortez Bridge, which would extend the service life of the bridge. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed thus far favor replacement of the bridge.
The bridge was built in 1956 and has received numerous rehabs, including a $2 million-plus makeover in 1995, following public outcry over replacement plans calling for a high-rise bridge.
The meeting will be similar to those held on the future of the Anna Maria Island Bridge on Manatee Avenue. That survey concluded with 70 percent of people responding in favor of a new, high-level fixed bridge with emergency lanes on Manatee Avenue/State Road 64.
The DOT’s final PD&E report for the Cortez Bridge will include comments on what the majority of people most affected by the bridge want for its future.
A survey questionnaire will be provided to people attending the hearing and can also be found and submitted online at www.cortezbridge.com.
For more information, call 863-519-2304.