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Date of Issue: March 04, 2009

DOT-Island meet March 26

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Workers at the eastern approach to the Anna Maria Island Bridge Feb. 27 were busy loading equipment and trailers as contractor Quinn Construction Co. prepared to meet its self-imposed deadline of March 3 to finish the $11 million bridge rehabilitation project. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

The Florida Department of Transportation will present its long-awaited project development and environmental study for the Anna Maria Island Bridge March 26 at a public hearing in Holmes Beach.

Lauren Hatchell of the DOT said the hearing will begin at 6 p.m. at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach.

The $588,000 PD&E study began in November 2007, after the DOT announced its then-$9.1 million rehabilitation project for the bridge (see separate story).

PD&E project manager Chris Piazza will present the study of the various options considered for a replacement structure, including the “no build” option.

 Piazza has said previously that rehabilitating the bridge again could “extend the service life of the bridge by approximately 25 years,” but a replacement bridge would be needed at the end of that cycle.

If a replacement bridge is the final choice, Piazza said the new bridge would be built alongside the current structure, allowing traffic to flow to and from the Island unimpeded during construction.

 However, once any new bridge is operational, the old bridge would be torn down, he said.

 “There are no plans to retain any of the current structure for recreational purposes” if a new bridge is the final choice, he said.

At a public meeting in Holmes Beach in December, Piazza said 99 percent of all boat traffic would be able to pass under a 65-foot-clearance fixed-span structure, while 38 percent could pass under a 45-foot-clearance drawbridge without opening the bascule. A 21.5-foot-high bascule bridge would essentially have the same bridge-raising requirements for boats as the current structure, he said.

A DOT survey last year found 80 percent of respondents favored a high, fixed-span bridge.

No decision on a replacement structure will be taken at the DOT hearing as the U.S. Coast Guard is the final authority on any new bridge, Hatchell said.

 

Bridge rehabilitation may end March 3

Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson Lauren Hatchell said last week that contractor Quinn Construction Co. of Palmetto planned to finish the $11 million bridge rehabilitation project by March 3.

“Nothing has changed that plan,” Hatchell said on Feb. 27.

The contract calls for completion of the Anna Maria Island Bridge project by early April, but Quinn will get a $50,000 bonus from the DOT if the job is finished early.

 Quinn already has received more than $600,000 in bonuses from the DOT for completing various portions of the project ahead of schedule and for revising the company’s work schedule. The bonus money has helped push the total cost of the project from its original $9.1 million estimate to the present $11 million.

A master cleanup plan is in place to clear the area along the bridge approaches of equipment and debris, but that effort will not begin until all bridge repairs have been completed, said Hatchell. The contract calls for Quinn to return the area “to its original state,” she said.