DOT delays March plans for AMI Bridge

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Motorists cross the Anna Maria Island Bridge. Islander File Photo

It’s as if the powers that be don’t know it’s high season.

The Florida Department of Transportation announced March 8 it would perform maintenance work on the Anna Maria Island Bridge March 18-22.

The bridge links Holmes Beach to Perico Island and the mainland on State Road 64/Manatee Avenue.

The DOT said the 9 p.m.-5 a.m. work would cause delays for motorists and drivers were being advised by the DOT to use alternate routes.

“You’re kidding me,” said Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy. “Isn’t that incredible?”

The following day, responding to concerns, the DOT announced the bridge maintenance would be deferred.

Zac Burch, DOT public information officer for District 1, which includes Anna Maria Island, said the routine maintenance would be delayed “until further notice.”

Burch said the DOT received several calls after The Islander began making inquiries.

“We decided it was something that could wait,” Burch said.

The DOT apparently did not notify local officials, including Murphy and Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer, of the project plans in advance.

“I’ve not received word one,” said Tokajer.

Murphy and Tokajer called the DOT to request the work be delayed until after tourist season — after April.

“If I had my way, I’d say do your maintenance — unless it’s critical — in off-season sometime in May,” Murphy said. “Not during the busiest time of the year.”

Earlier in the same week, Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie requested Manatee County postpone construction work begun on Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach for the Force Main 5 project. The county contractor was directed to stop and remove all equipment until mid-April.

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