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Date of Issue: August 21, 2008

Cortez 127th Street bridge on schedule for reopening

Humpback sighting
Workers for J.D. Allen Construction Co. were busy last week putting the final touches on the 127th Street humpback bridge in Cortez. The bridge is expected to reopen for traffic around Sept. 1. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Cortez motorists who have had to detour around 127th Street because of construction on the humpback bridge should be celebrating in a few weeks.

The bridge is on schedule for completion by Aug. 30, and should reopen the first week of September, said Norm Burke, the man behind the privately financed project.

“Thankfully, the rain hasn’t hurt us,” said Burke, who is also building the Bradenton Boat Club marina a few hundred yards east of the bridge.

 Burke needed the bridge a few feet higher to allow clearance for the large boats that plan to use the marina to access the open bay waters.

The Florida Department of Transportation had plans to remodel the bridge, but not for a few years. Rather than wait on the DOT, Burke offered to finance the $18 million — and await DOT reimbursement in a future budget — if he could raise the height a few feet. The DOT jumped at the offer and construction began in late May.

At the same time as the bridge reopens, Burke said the marina should be completed and ready to accommodate boats a few weeks later.

“That’s also on schedule,” Burke said of the 232-boat dry storage facility and 10 wet slips.

The bridge span will be 10 feet, 4 inches, above high mean water, Burke said, which should permit passage of any boat that can be accommodated by the BBC storage facility.

 BBC’s 10 wet slips are designed for power craft up to 35 feet long, while dry slips can accommodate a boat up to 40 feet in length, he said. Sailboat operators will have to lower their mast to reach the marina.

Burke said pre-construction sales at the BBC have been good, with about 100 advance reservations.

Even in a down economy, Burke wasn’t surprised at the brisk sales. “People with an investment in a boat want to protect it. It’s a need, not just a want,” he said.

Once the marina is operational, it will have a staff of six full-time employees, with Alan Goddard as operations manager, said Burke.

BBC is on the site of the old C&C Marina on the north side of Cortez Road. The club sits on 4.78 acres, including a lagoon and adjacent underwater land.

For more information on the project, call 941-778-3625.