By Steve Albee
The third bridge linking Anna Maria Island to another shore is aging and in need of repair.
There has been much ado about the Anna Maria Island Bridge on Manatee Avenue and the Cortez Bridge, both linking Anna Maria Island to the mainland, both built in 1957 and both the subject of replacement by the Florida Department of Transportation.
The bridge over Longboat Pass connecting Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria Island to Longboat Key also is more than 60 years old and it is passing under the DOT microscope.
It also was built in 1957 with a 50-year design life. It has lasted 11 years longer than the DOT anticipated and, while still considered safe, it is due for a major overhaul, according to James Jacobsen, district structures maintenance engineer for DOT District One, which includes Manatee County.
Jacobsen made a presentation to the Island Transportation Planning Organization at its meeting Oct. 22 at Anna Maria City Hall.
The ITPO comprises the island mayors, who review matters that are on the agenda for the Manatee/Sarasota Metropolitan Planning Organization, where only one of the mayors is seated for a vote.
Jacobsen outlined the planned repairs and informed the mayors on how the project will affect residents and visitors traveling between Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key during the repair process. The repair is expected to begin no later than May 1, 2019, and will be ongoing until Thanksgiving 2019.
According to DOT examiners, the bridge is functionally obsolete, but structurally considered in fair condition. The repair project will add 10 years of service to the bridge and allow the DOT time to develop a long-term solution.
The repairs will result in limited traffic disruption and any required closures will be overnight, between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and will be limited to 15 minutes. There are two overnight closures planned, from midnight to 5 a.m. to replace gears and machinery on the bascule. There also will be a lane reduction from 12 feet to 11 feet.
“Our objective is to complete the repairs with minimal interruptions of traffic,” Jacobsen said. The contractor will be encouraged to finish the repairs within the given timeframe with a $160,000 financial incentive to finish early, he said.
There should be no delays of marine traffic or extended navigational delays, he added.