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Date of Issue: April 13, 2006

Cortez Road construction: worst is over

The basic construction part of the Cortez Road project is finished and work has been suspended until May 1.

As the Florida Department of Transportation promised the historic fishing village, the job was done and heavy equipment was moved out for the small boat festival April 1. "It was grand," said a villager. "All that big machinery just vanished."

All that's left to be done is installation of decorative brick pedestrian crossings at 119th and 127th Streets, which will begin in May when the winter season is officially over and spring break finished, said a DOT spokesperson.

That will take from 20 to 30 days and entail closing one lane at a time intermittently, no great interruption compared with the big job just completed. That work itself was less disruptive than had been feared, with one-lane traffic moving steadily throughout the construction.

The whole project was shut down April 1 for the month under agreement between DOT, contractor APAC Southeast, Manatee County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann and the village, as embodied in the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage.

APAC began the $2.5 million project last August, putting a left-turn lane down the middle of the widened Cortez Road from 119th Street to the Cortez Bridge. It required accommodation of entrances to businesses along the road, complete with signage to assure as little disruption as possible.

The job included bike paths and sidewalks along the roadway, a pedestrian oasis in the center, traffic-calming devices and an enhanced traffic signal system.