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Date of Issue: June 18, 2008

New small bridge, big boat storage on schedule

The new humpback bridge that will reopen in north Cortez along the waterfront will be finished by August, says its builder.

The big boat storage facility being built up the waterway from the bridge will be completed then, too.

The bridge was delayed from its original January start date to accommodate the winter tourist season, Norm Burke noted, but it is right on its revised schedule.

Burke’s company is replacing the old tired bridge on the north side of Cortez Road near the east end of the Cortez Bridge past Annie’s Bait &Tackle that takes 127th Street over a boat channel to the Seafood Shack and the waterfront neighborhoods on the north side of Cortez.

The bridge was demolished last week to make way for new construction. It was scheduled by the state and Manatee County to be replaced, but Burke is rebuilding it to speed construction of his project, the Bradenton Boat Club boat storage facility to the east, also on the north side of Cortez Road and on the boat channel that the bridge traverses.

The bridge span will be 10 feet, 4 inches above high mean water, Burke said, which should permit passage of any boat that fits into his BBC storage buildings. The 10 wet slips there are designed for power craft up to 35 feet. Sailboat operators would have to unstep their masts.

Burke organized Bradenton Boat Club for the project, patterned after half a dozen other successful facilities he has built in Florida. It consists of three large buildings, their construction well along so that they can be completed, extensive landscaping and all, in time to open in late July or early August.

One will include a ship stores and BBC offices with Alan Goddard as operations manager, working with four or five full-time employees. Boats will be moved between dry storage and the water by mobile hoists of 45,000-pound capacity. 

The facility has room for 272 boats in dry storage and 10 at slips on the channel. It’s strictly a condominium affair, storage available for purchase, lease/purchase or rental through the BBC association being organized. About one-third of the slots have been sold already, Burke said, which doesn’t surprise him despite the stalled economy. “People with an investment in a boat want to protect it. It’s a need, not just a want.”

BBC is on the old C&C Marina site, 4.78 acres with its own lagoon and ownership of the underwater land, unlike many such facilities where the state claims the bottom.

Total cost of the project will come out between $17 and $18 million, Burke estimated, somewhat higher than originally calculated because of increased prices for materials. J.G. Allen Associates of Naples is the contractor, working under Bellingham Marine, based in Puget Sound, Wash., and described as the biggest of its kind in the country.