DOT sets meeting on Longboat Pass Bridge project

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Looking north, a map from the Florida Department of Transportation shows the project area for work planned on the bridge connecting Longboat Key and Bradenton Beach at Longboat Pass.
The Longboat Pass Bridge, built in 1957, links Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. The U.S. Coast Guard, finding the work will not impede navigation in the pass, signed off on Florida Department of Transportation plans to repair the structure beginning in May. Islander File Photo

Repairs to rusted, eroded, potholed parts of the Longboat Pass Bridge could disrupt overnight traffic patterns for seven months — but add 10 years to the structure’s life.

Representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation District One’s office will stage a public information forum to review proposed repairs to the State Road 789 drawbridge connecting Bradenton Beach and Longboat Key. The meeting will be 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the Longboat Key Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road.

The format will be an open house, with no formal presentation. Attendees will discuss the project one-on-one with officials and view displays detailing the work expected to begin in May and continue through the fall.

DOT project manager Douglas Schallmoser said improvements include repairing the rusted steel and grid deck on the movable span, as well as the concrete beams, deck, sidewalk and railings.

Also, plans call for the installation of underwater erosion protections, as well as repairs to mechanical and electrical systems in the movable span.

“This work will help extend the service life of the current bridge and has no impact on plans to replace the bridge,” Schallmoser said.

The drawbridge, built over Longboat Pass in 1957, is one of three ways to drive onto Anna Maria Island and one of two vehicle access points to Longboat Key.

The DOT has determined the bascule is in fair condition but, like its sister structures built the same year on Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road, the state considers the Longboat bascule functionally obsolete.

In 2020, the DOT will begin a study of options for the structure — long-term improvements or replacement. Similar studies on the Anna Maria Island and Cortez bridges resulted in DOT recommendations for high, fixed-span replacements.

The state’s budget for the Longboat Pass improvements is $3.7 million.

The work is planned to take place outside of high season for tourism, but does coincide with hurricane and sea turtle nesting seasons.

Schallmoser said the DOT would ensure the plan from the contractor — not yet selected — satisfies environmental requirements, including shielding lights during nesting season.

As for repair work during storm season, staging for the project either will be off-site or on barges.

Also, according to the DOT, overnight bridge closures would be minimized to between midnight and 5 a.m. for a maximum of two days.

Temporary bridge closures would be limited to 15-minutes maximum between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to DOT public information specialist Brian Rick.

Lane closures would be limited to 9 p.m.-6 a.m. but no lane closures would be permitted from 9 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Sunday.

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie said he reached out to the DOT to discuss the repair plans.

“It doesn’t sound like it is going to be awful bad for us during the day,” said Chappie, adding that he received assurances the DOT would notify the city of any bridge closures.

For more information

People with questions or comments about the bridge project can contact project manager Douglas Schallmoser at 813-612-3384 or douglas.schallmoser@dot.state.fl.us. Written correspondence can be sent to the Florida Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 1249, Bartow FL 33831.

In the spring, project details will be posted online at swflroads.com.

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