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Date of Issue: March 19, 2008

Bridge draw slims, draw times change, vehicles slowed

Slow down on bridge
The Florida Department of Transportation has lowered the speed limit on the Anna Maria Island Bridge to 35 mph during the $9.1 million renovation project that began in early February. Construction vehicles such as the one pictured are being used by contractor Quinn Construction Co. of Palmetto to ferry workers and equipment to the draw and could be endangered by vehicles traveling at the normal 50-mph speed limit on the bridge, the DOT said. Islander Photo: Rick Catli

Only one “leaf” will raise for boat traffic during the duration of the Florida Department of Transportation’s renovation project currently ongoing on the Anna Maria Island Bridge, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Coast Guard bridge specialist Michael Lieberman, who is based in Miami, said last week that the single-leaf draw will open on the hour and half-hour between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily.

A double-leaf opening will be available to larger boats, but they have to give the bridgetender at least a one-hour notice, he added.

Once the bridge closes to vehicular traffic on Sept. 29, however, the draw will be closed to boat traffic from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

At all other times during the planned 45-day vehicular closure, the single-leaf will be raised once an hour “at the top of the hour,” he said. And a double-leaf opening will be provided on a one-hour notice.

Vessels in distress, tugs and tows can have the draw raised at any time, Lieberum added.


Cortez Bridge

Lieberum also noted that during construction on the Anna Maria Island Bridge, the Cortez Bridge will open on the hour and half-hour between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily, and on signal after 7 p.m.

From Sept. 29 to Nov. 13, the Cortez Bridge will be closed to boat navigation from 5:35 a.m. to 9:35 a.m., 1:35 p.m. to 4:25 p.m., and from 8 p.m. to 4:25 a.m. daily.

At all other times during this 45-day period, the Cortez Bridge will open once an hour at the bottom of the hour.

The bridgetender for the Cortez Bridge will ensure that all vessels passing south through the Anna Maria Island Bridge will have cleared the Cortez Bridge prior to any extended closure time.

Lieberum said the Coast Guard does not want any vessel to become “trapped” between the two bridges.


Bridge speed limit slows

At the same time the Coast Guard announced its new bascule schedule for both bridges leading to the Island from the mainland, the Florida Department of Transportation lowered the speed limit on the Anna Maria Island Bridge to 35 mph for the duration of the construction project.

Manatee County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann, whose district includes Anna Maria Island, said she has asked the DOT to make the 35-mph speed limit permanent from the west end of the bridge to the Holmes Beach city limits.

At the same time, von Hahmann said, the county commission has requested a permanent 35-mph limit for the bridge.


Pre-closure bridge meeting scheduled

The Florida Department of Transportation noted this week that while work continues on the Anna Maria Island Bridge Rehabilitation Project, most of the work “is not visible to the traveling public.”

According to the project’s public information officer, Audrey Clarke, the contractor continues work on the north bascule sidewalk grate replacement, repair of pile jackets and installation of electrical system.

There are no lane closures scheduled for that section of State Road 64, although there may be times when a temporary lane closure is required while workers unload supplies or equipment.

The DOT has scheduled a pre-closure public meeting, tentatively set for June 5, in addition to the public meeting to be held in September just prior to the 45-day full closure of the bridge Sept. 29.

A project-specific Web site is available at Clark suggests that the public check the “Weekly Update” link on the bridge project, including updated construction photos.

For more information, contact Clarke at 941-792-0369.