In deciding to replace the drawbridge constructed in 1957 on Manatee Avenue, the Florida Department of Transportation wanted to make sure the structure appears to belong in the Sunshine State.
To ensure the new fixed span with 65 feet of vertical clearance sports the right look, the DOT formed an Anna Maria Island Bridge aesthetics advisory committee with representatives from Anna Maria, Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, Manatee County, the Palma Sola Scenic highway committee and the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The committee has spoken.
Bridge features were chosen to look good, have as little ecological impact as possible and be easy to maintain, said Ingrid McClellan, who chaired the Nov. 8 meeting of the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity, despite nursing a broken kneecap.
The committee sought community input on decorative features and amenities for the project on State Road 789 between Kingfish Boat Ramp in Holmes Beach and Martinique Drive on Perico Island, McClellan reported.
Recommended bridge features include mudline footings, panel railings with sun-shaped infills and blue hammerhead piers with turtle impressions, according to the committee.
“It’s a cleaner look,” McClellan said.
The committee suggested the wall impressions include manatees, turtles and pelicans on gray, fractured granite.
Landscaping suggestions for the landings include a combination of trees, such as royal and sabal palms, silver buttonwoods and geigers.
The committee’s recommendations were sent to the DOT, according to McClellan.
Speaking on other matters, McClellan noted the Holmes Beach public works employees have been exemplary in maintaining the city’s area of Palma Sola Scenic Highway corridor.
“Holmes Beach has an A-plus on maintaining their side of the causeway,” said McClellan.
Holmes Beach is responsible for property maintenance east of the welcome sign on Manatee Avenue West to the bridge.
Also, Holmes Beach is bringing its navigational day markers up to code to allow law enforcement.
“If someone is traveling too fast through the waterway, they could be cited for doing it,” said James McGuinness, Holmes Beach building official. “It’s also a great aid for boaters for us to replace those markers.”
Improved parking to provide “soft access” for Grassy Point Preserve is being developed, too, McGuinness said.
Holmes Beach has acquired two lots immediately south of Grassy Point to be used for parking, he said. He said the new lots are expected to increase attendance and enjoyment of the park.
“It’s something we’ve been working on for a long, long time,” McGuinness said. “We were concerned about those lots because, right at the gateway, we don’t want commercial development.”
The island has two scenic highway groups — the Palma Sola committee and the Bradenton Beach Scenic Waves advisory committee that focuses on Gulf Drive in the city.
The Palma Sola Scenic Highway group’s next meeting will take place at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, in a training room at the Bradenton public works facility at 114 Ninth St. W.