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Date of Issue: March 31, 2005

Cortez getting turn lane this year

APAC Southeast will put a left-turn lane in Cortez Road for $2.5 million starting in August.

The contract was awarded last week by the Florida Department of Transportation for the controversial project, which has been discussed and cussed in the historic fishing village for years.

The middle lane will run from 119th Street on the east to the mainland approach to the Cortez Bridge. It will considerably widen the main street through Cortez, for the plans call for a wide left-turn lane with a traffic lane on each side.

Sidewalks and bicycle lanes will widen the old road further, as feared by some Cortezians who fought the project fang and claw until they were overwhelmed by other residents and the state and county governments. Opponents fear the improved road will lead to more traffic to and from Anna Maria Island, and Bradenton Beach residents expressed similar reservations, feeling there’s already too much traffic in their city.

But the road is too dangerous to leave it as it is now, DOT argued, what with traffic increasing with every new family moving to the area. It will "improve traffic flow efficiency," the state said, which Cortezians said was just what they were talking about.

The thoroughfare will have pedestrian crossings as safe as engineers can make them, and medians in the sections where there is no cross street to need a turn lane.

What with widening and milling of the surviving parts of the old road, Cortez Road will be a brand new thoroughfare, DOT noted, with improved drainage, signaling, and pavement marking.

The August start will give APAC ample time to assemble machinery, crews, materials and everything else it will need to do the job, DOT pointed out. The contract gives the company 120 days to finish the job.

Arithmetic puts the job’s tail-end right into start of the winter season, but DOT said it will see to it that there is little if any disturbance in traffic then.