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Date of Issue: August 06, 2008

DOT to SAM: No lights for bridge

The Florida Department of Transportation will stick with its plan to exclude lighting from the rehab plans for the Anna Maria Island Bridge, a state official informed Save Anna Maria Inc. recently.

SAM president Billie Martini had inquired about the installation of lights on the bridge as part of the major $9.2 rehab project under way on the Manatee Avenue structure.

Lights are possible and were planned, according to Edward Gonzalez, the DOT’s director of transportation operations in Region 1.

Gonzalez said that in preparation for the rehab project the DOT “determined the structural capacity of the bridge could accommodate the installation of street lights. To that end, streetlights were planned to be included as part of the project.”

However, he added, the DOT eliminated the lights in an effort to reduce costs.

“As with many of our projects over the last several years, the cost of the rehabilitation increased and aesthetic components such as street lights had to be removed from the project scope,” Gonzalez wrote in a letter to Martini.

The DOT explored using safety dollars for lights but “based on the Anna Maria Island Bridge crash history, the bridge does not warrant the installation of lights” for safety reasons.

Gonzalez said SAM could approach a local government entity to explore a joint agreement with the state and financing the lights locally.

However, he added, lights on the bridge also “could be a potential impact to sea turtles.”

Artificial lights can disorientate nesting female turtles on the beach and hatchlings.