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Date of Issue: July 19, 2007

Gulf Drive/Cortez Road intersection causes traffic morass

It was, quite literally, traffic hell for much of July 11 in Bradenton Beach and Longboat Key.

AJAX Paving Industries Inc., a contractor of the Florida Department of Transportation charged with re-paving the intersection of Cortez Road and Gulf Drive, as well as installing a new traffic light, sort of messed up traffic for about 11 hours.

“The contractor did not properly advance the warnings that road work would be taking place,” according to DOT spokesperson Cindy Clemmons-Adente. “Flaggers were also not allowing southbound traffic on Gulf Drive to turn onto Cortez Road.”

She said that as soon as DOT was notified of the problems, the contractor was ordered to stop work, but not before traffic was reportedly backed up northbound on Longboat Key to near the bridge at New Pass, a distance of about 10 miles.

“The contractor got a very, very stern talking to,” Clemmons-Adente said, “and it could result in a deficiency grade in their file,” which could mean no further DOT contracts for AJAX.

The road work was a “fix” based on DOT inspections of the pavement work, which found ripples in the asphalt. The contractor was ordered to re-do the work by the DOT.

The work is part of a $472,000 intersection improvement project by the DOT.

Employees at the BeachHouse Restaurant were on hand, though, providing water and sodas for the frustrated motorists who spent lengthy periods of time sitting in traffic waiting for the road work to end and traffic to be allowed to continue.