New Cortez Bridge study to begin

The Florida Department of Transportation will begin a study in January for a replacement of the Cortez Bridge.

Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization executive director Mike Howe told members of the Island Transportation and Planning Organization Dec. 10 that the study would take about a year.

He said public meetings will be held after the study’s completion to discuss options, much as they were in 2006, when the DOT began discussing the possible replacement of the Anna Maria Island Bridge on State Road 64/Manatee Avenue.

The DOT study will look at all possible scenarios for the bridge on State Road 70/Cortez Road, Howe said, including cost of a major rehabilitation of the bridge, if feasible.

During DOT public meetings in 2009 for a new Anna Maria Island Bridge, residents gave opinions of the various options presented by the DOT. The majority of written comments favored a new, two-lane, low-rise bascule bridge with emergency traffic lanes. The public rejected a high-rise bridge. The DOT has yet to include the new bridge in a five-year plan.

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy said the type of bridge is not as important as where the DOT puts it.

“Right on to Longboat Key,” he said tongue-in-cheek.

“Every afternoon rush hour, all the Longboat Key traffic backs up in Bradenton Beach,” Shaughnessy said.

Politicians have discussed a bridge direct from the mainland to Longboat Key for more than 40 years without success.


Cortez bridge rehabilitation

The DOT has one bridge project for Anna Maria Island in its tentative five-year plan for capacity, resurfacing and bridge projects.

Rehabilitation and repair of the Cortez Bridge for an estimated $6.1 million is in the plan, but no start date for construction was listed. The repairs would be for the bridge and State Road 684/Cortez Road to just west of 127th Street, Cortez.