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Date of Issue: July 12, 2007

No need for reduced bridge speed

The Florida Department of Transportation last week in a letter to the Manatee County Commission stood by an earlier claim (The Islander, May 9) that there is no need to reduce the speed limit on the Anna Maria Island Bridge, despite several recent accidents on the bridge, including a fatality.

L.K. Nandam of the DOT’s Bartow office said that in response to a request from the county commission, it performed a detailed safety and speed-limit review of the bridge.

“Our safety review did not identify any correctable crash patterns,” Nandam said. The recent fatal crashes on the bridge involved excessive speeds and drivers under the influence of alcohol, he added. “The speed studies support the existing posted speed limit of 50 mph,” Nandam concluded.

He also reiterated that upgrading the design of the bridge would require replacement of the bridge. Following the DOT attempt 10 years ago to replace the current structure with a high, fixed-span bridge, resulting in “strong opposition from residents,” the DOT concluded that rehabilitating the existing bridge would be more feasible.

The DOT plans a major face-lift to the bridge starting this year that will add 15 years to its life, Nandam said.

Upgrading the existing concrete railings or adding concrete railings would not be possible as a safety measure, he said, because the bridge’s substructure could not support the additional load.

In fact, claimed Nandam, adding more railings between the pedestrian walkway and travel lanes will only result in “an increase of crashes because of the limited separation between the travel lanes and the barrier.”

As a result, said Nandam, the DOT “did not include any changes to the railings in the rehabilitation project.”

However, he added, the rehabilitation project will include “refurbishing of the pavement markings and the reflective markers along the center line and edge lines to delineate the travel lanes and the curbs.”