Longboat Pass Bridge repairs begin June 10

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Vehicles traverse the Longboat Pass Bridge May 27, traveling north from Longboat Key to Bradenton Beach. The Florida Department of Transportation plans to begin overnight repairs to the bridge June 10. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

The Florida Department of Transportation cycles into summer June 10 with offseason repairs to the Longboat Pass Bridge.

The DOT hired Southern Road & Bridge as the prime contractor on the repair project on the 1957-built drawbridge connecting Longboat Key and Bradenton Beach, according to District 1 spokesman Brian Rick.

The DOT’s goal is to add 10-15 years of life to the structure by:

  • Repairing the concrete approach and the bascule steel and fender system.
  • Rebalancing the bascule span.
  • Cleaning and painting the steel.
  • Installing new traffic signals.
  • Reconditioning mechanical and electrical systems.

The project, funded with state gas tax money, is $5,199,494, with monetary incentives to finish early — the last allowable contract date is Aug. 28, with allowances for holidays and inclement weather. The maximum incentive is $160,000.

Impact to motorists

The DOT says during repairs, motorists may experience slowdowns and backups on the bridge as travel lanes will go from 12 feet to 11 feet.

In addition, pedestrian access on the bridge will be limited, boaters could find reduced clearance and the contractor will post lane closures 9 p.m.-6 a.m.

However, the DOT plans to limit lane closures to nighttime weekdays, nighttime bridge closures to 15 minutes and nighttime bridge closures with detours to a maximum of two nights. The DOT had not set the dates for the detours as of Islander press time.

The DOT was to hold a public information meeting on the project 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, June 4, at Longboat Key Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road. The format was to be an open house. The meeting was after The Islander went to press for the week.

Public to see Cortez Bridge
study by late summer

Locals awaiting the public release of a project development and environment study on the Cortez Bridge: Mark your calendars.

“Regarding the Cortez PD&E, we are expecting completion in six-eight weeks,” Brian Rick said May 28. He’s the spokesman in the Florida Department of Transportation’s District 1 office.

The DOT announced in April 2018 that a fixed-span bridge with a 65-foot navigational clearance is its preferred alternative to replace the drawbridge on Cortez Road spanning Sarasota Bay between Cortez and Bradenton Beach.

In October 2018, District 1 Secretary L.K. Nandem addressed an audience at a Manatee Chamber of Commerce Headliner Luncheon and stated for the record, “There are no plans to revisit plans to change our current design.”

However, more than a year later, the DOT has yet to release the PD&E, leading some local officials, including Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, to emphasize a new, high bridge is not a done deal.

“I’m still trying to change minds,” Whitmore has said.

The DOT began the PD&E in 2013, examining social, economic, natural and physical environmental impacts of various options for the bridge site.

        — Lisa Neff