DOT plans to spend $8M to acquire land for new Cortez Bridge

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The Florida Department of Transportation plans to spend $8 million by 2025 for right-of-way acquisition for the megabridge the agency wants to build to replace the Cortez Bridge.

The DOT’s tentative five-year work program for fiscal years 2021-25, released Oct. 21, says the agency plans to spend about $3.9 million in fiscal 2020-21, about $1 million in fiscal 2023-24 and $3.1 million in fiscal 2024-25 to acquire property for a new bridge.

The state’s fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30.

The DOT plans to spend about $1 million during the same time period for repair and rehabilitation of the Anna Maria Island Bridge.

According to the agency’s plan, $146,000 will be spent in fiscal 2022-23 and $897,501 in fiscal 2023-24. Most of that amount will be spent on preliminary engineering.

The DOT also plans to spend a total of $550,000 by 2023 during work for replacement of the Anna Maria Island Bridge.

Of that amount, $100,000 will be spent on preliminary engineering in fiscal 2020-21. Environmental work will account for $25,000 in fiscal 2021-22 and $425,000 in fiscal 2022-23.

None of these planned expenditures has been budgeted. Amounts and time frames often change by the time the fiscal year budget is allocated.

The DOT plans to replace the Anna Maria Island and Cortez drawbridges with 65-foot-clearance fixed-span bridges.

A $6.2 million design plan for the AMI Bridge will not be completed until fiscal year 2022-23, and construction is not scheduled to start until fiscal 2029, the DOT said in August. Construction could take at least two or three years, the agency said.

The bridge, built in 1957, has undergone six structural repairs since 1978, the most recent in 2013.

The DOT released a project development and environment study for the Cortez Bridge replacement in early October and has started a $6.4 million design project scheduled to take several years.

The Cortez drawbridge also was completed in 1957. Major repairs were done in 1996, 2010 and 2015.