The Cortez Bridge broke, again, about a week ago. Anyone trying to get on or off Anna Maria Island was stuck for about two hours. This is hardly newsworthy, but does call for an update on FDOT plans to address the need for improvement.
Estimates are that it could still be many years before construction begins, but as far as what is actually constructed, the FDOT appears focused on two options, both aimed at reducing traffic backups. One would be a higher, 35 ft. drawbridge requiring less frequent openings; the other would be a 65 ft. fixed span bridge.
Many in the area feel the fixed span option will clash with the character of Cortez, even if it does offer the most traffic-friendly solution. The 35 ft. bascule option would be the next best option for traffic, allowing a wider range of boats passage compared to the current 19 ft. span. Fixing or rebuilding the current bridge, while officially still in the mix, seems unpractical and highly unlikely.
Persons interested in having a say in the process can keep up with developments at the FDOT’s website, CortezBridge.com. The study is scheduled to be completed this summer and a public hearing should be announced soon.