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Date of Issue: April 02, 2008

Future AMI bridge workshop Thursday

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AMI Bridge future?
Islanders and concerned citizens will have direct input to the Florida Department of Transportation on whether or not a replacement for the AMI Bridge should look like the Ringling Bridge in Sarasota, pictured above, or another type of design before any DOT decision on its appearance. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

In stark contrast to its former image of the 1990s, the new “kinder, gentler” Florida Department of Transportation will host a public information workshop Thursday, April 3, on the progress of its project development and environmental study to replace the Anna Maria Island Bridge.

The worksession is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at St. Bernard Catholic Church at 248 S. Harbor Drive in Holmes Beach.

Chris Piazza of the DOT’s environmental management office in Bartow will host the meeting.

Piazza said that the PD&E study and meeting will “consider replacement options ranging from low- and mid-level drawbridge alternatives to a high-level, fixed bridge.” A “no-build” option will also be considered.

The public will have the opportunity to comment on each option and eventually cast a vote for a preference.

An audiovisual presentation will explain the study process and DOT representatives will be on hand to discuss issues related to the study. Information stations will be located around the activity hall at the church and DOT officials will document questions and comments from the public.

The DOT mailed 5,500 questionnaires to Island property owners and concerned citizens regarding a replacement bridge and also invited comments about a new structure. For those who received them, the comment forms can be turned in at the workshop or mailed to the DOT.

The DOT said it will use the survey and comments to present the various options for a new structure when it holds a public meeting on the PD&E study this fall.

 Comment forms will also be available at the workshop and can be completed at the meeting or mailed back to the DOT by April 14 to become part of the official record.

Work on the PD&E study began after the DOT last October announced that its $9.1 million rehabilitation project for the AMI Bridge would begin in February and that the rehab would extend the life of the bride another 15-20 years.

 While the study should be completed by this fall, DOT official Deb Hunt has stated that a new structure will take, at a minimum, seven to nine years to complete, but a better estimate would be 10 to 12 years.

Hunt has also said that the DOT will make no decision on a new bridge without public approval.

The rehab project officially began Feb. 4. Current plans call for the bridge to be closed to vehicular traffic for a 45-day period, from Sept. 29 to Nov. 13, although boat traffic will be allowed to navigate through the draw.

A formal public hearing to present the PD&E study and the preference of Islanders on the design of a new structure - including the “no bridge” option - will be held this fall, the DOT has said, although no date has been set.

For information on the PD&E, the DOT has a Web site at www.annamariaislandbridge.com. For the most up-to-date information on the renovation project, members of the public can go on the Internet to www.amibridgerehab.com. People without Internet access can call 941-792-0369 to obtain information.

 

AMI Bridge meeting Thursday, comments sought

A meeting hosted by the Florida Department of Transportation at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 3, at the activity hall of St. Bernard Catholic Church, Holmes Beach, will be for the purpose of collecting comments on the replacement options for the AMI Bridge.

Comments will be taken by DOT personnel and comment forms will be available at the meeting and may be submitted at that time.

Forms may also be accessed on the Internet at www.amibridgerehab.com.

Forms may also be mailed to the attention of Chris Piazza, P.E., Florida Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 1249, Bartow FL 33831.