The original Cortez Bridge was a wooden structure built in 1921 to connect the fishing village of Cortez to what is now Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach. Prior to that construction, Anna Maria Island had been accessible only by boat.
Fast forward to today, and the current Cortez Bridge is the subject of spirited debate. The existing bridge was built in 1965 and has been deemed by the Florida Department of Transportation as having outlived its original 50-year lifespan. A recent repair project extended the bridge’s usefulness another 10 years, but FDOT officials warn that the bridge will continue to deteriorate due to “extremely aggressive” environmental conditions resulting from saltwater spray.
The big question has become, “now what?” Options under discussion include replacing the existing structure with a low-level drawbridge, a mid-level drawbridge, or a high-level fixed bridge. Another possibility is adding a new bridge to Longboat Key. There are pros and cons with every scenario, and many people have definite opinions about what should be done.
As time moves on, a decision will have to be made about the future of the Cortez Bridge. This process will certainly include much community input. We look forward to being part of that discussion and doing what we can to help the community make the best decision for all concerned.
For additional information please visit www.cortezbridge.com.