Bradenton Beach officials address Cortez Bridge concerns

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Will a big bridge destroy the character of the communities it connects?

Opinions are flying about the recent Florida Department of Transportation recommendation to replace the Cortez Bridge — a drawbridge built in 1956 — with a 65-foot-clearance, fixed-span bridge.

The roadbed for the proposed bridge would be 75 to 80 feet high.

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie led a discussion about the proposed megabridge at the May 3 commission meeting.

He said he added the matter to the agenda to discuss the new bridge “as a city.”

“It’s a big disappointment,” Chappie said regarding the DOT decision, adding that he supports a lower bridge. “The island has its character and it’s definitely not high structures and high-rises.”

Commissioner Jake Spooner suggested the city write the DOT a letter expressing concerns.

Chappie agreed and said he would see if Anna Maria and Holmes Beach would do the same.

“At least we would get something on record,” Spooner said.

Commissioner Ralph Cole said he was surprised the DOT opted for the 65-foot bridge, considering the public — in comments provided through a series of public meetings and written filings — supported a 35-foot drawbridge.

However, he said he understands that maintenance costs would be significantly lower for a fixed-span bridge.

Cost for the new bridge is projected to be $72.17 million, but funding has not been allocated.

“They are looking for federal money, which could end up in the courts,” Commissioner Randy White said. “So they’ve got a few hoops to jump through.”

Chappie said that the DOT has talked about forming an “aesthetics committee” for the project and suggested Bradenton Beach residents join, including commission and Scenic WAVES Partnership Committee liaisons.

“I know change is going to happen, but sometimes it’s just tough to take,” Chappie said. “The drawbridges are just that uniqueness — it’s the character of the community. I wish people weren’t always in such a hurry.”

4 thoughts on “Bradenton Beach officials address Cortez Bridge concerns

  1. Edie Watts

    I lived in Charleston, SC shortly after Hurricane Hugo (cat. 5, 1989) came through destroying most area bridges. The island I lived on fought tooth and nail to restore the old swing bridge over the iintercoastal waterwayl. Maybe because the Governor was a resident, we won; and the island has stayed relatively pristine: no big condo developments, no hotels, small number of eateries. The next island over gave into the DOT and a huge fixed-span bridge became a fixture of the seascape, complete with large condo developments, hotels and commercials businesses. For that island, the quaintness disappeared. I urge all BB residents, Cortez residents, anyone who loves what is left of Anna Maria to become proactive to prevent the downfall of island living as you know it. You MUST!

  2. Geo

    gee…do you think if they build this bridge that Jr. Guthrie will loose his house that he built out in the bay, where it doesn;t belong and he has no right to build? I certainly hope so. By the way…why are the knuckleheads of the Manatee County Council spending my state and county taxes fighting the federal government on the illegal structure. It would be really nice to notify the taxpayers of Manatee County as to how their tax dollars are once again being waisted


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