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Date of Issue: May 25, 2006

Jan. 15-May 15 bridge opening curfew suggested

Island mayors, in the guise of the Island Transportation Planning Organization, have recommended that the four-month hiatus of three-openings-per-hour for boaters wishing to pass through the drawbridges at the Anna Maria Island and Cortez bridges be from Jan. 15 through May 15.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which oversees bridge opening schedules, had agreed earlier this month to allow changing the thrice-per-hour schedule to twice for four months during the winter season.

The Coast Guard said the Island community should decide which four months.

Island mayors reasoned the mid-month period would work best for the busy tourist season, when motorists are faced with the greatest traffic jams due to boat openings.

If the Coast Guard agrees to the recommendation, the change will begin Jan. 15, 2007.

The half-hour openings will run from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The bridges open on demand by boaters for the rest of the day and for emergencies.