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Vol. 14 No. 44 - August 27, 2014

letters to the editor

Tall bridge not the answer

If you live on Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key or in Cortez, please attend the FDOT meeting at St. Bernard’s Church on Aug. 28 and say “no” again to a high, fixed-span bridge.

Even though we have not had a hurricane hit our Island for many years, we should think about that possibility and how we (that means you, Longboat Key north) would evacuate if we choose to. Obviously, we would want the safest bridges possible. At their current heights and with our building code limiting the building height to 36 feet, our low-level bascule bridges are afforded some protection from the full force of wind. The higher the bridge, the less protected it is. The higher the bridge you have to drive over, the higher the wind speeds.

When asked directly about closure of any bridge due to high wind (in the event of a hurricane, a drawbridge is locked in the down position, not up), FDOT officials always shy away from addressing the dangers of traveling over a high bridge in hurricane-force winds by deferring to emergency officials. Those officials admit to keeping their own people out of harm’s way and off a bridge in high winds.

If a higher Cortez Bridge were constructed, the launch platforms would have to be extended farther to the east and completely reconfigured on the Gulf side to compensate for the increased degree of elevation. Businesses and residences would be destroyed or find themselves with an eye-level view of concrete.

All three bridges connecting our islands and the mainland will be only two lanes no matter how high they are. Additionally, FDOT lists heights as measured to the underside of the bridge. Add at least eight inches for roadbed. Try riding your bike over the Ringling Bridge – it is the same height as the tall option.

Yet another reason for keeping our low-level bridge – marine traffic slows down helping to safeguard our county’s namesake – the manatee.

Please don’t sit at home this night. Show up for a few minutes and tell FDOT we said NO before and we still mean NO to any change in height of our safe bridges.

Billie Martini
Holmes Beach

And neither are toll bridges

I am a 40-year resident of Holmes Beach, and I feel that toll bridges to get on the Island are a very bad idea. After living here and paying taxes all these years, why should I have to stop and pay a toll to get back on the Island? Since I work in town and frequently go shopping in town, if the toll was $1, I could easily be spending $10 a week on tolls. This would add up to over $500 a year, which is not small change.

Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road are both two-lane roads as they approach the Island. Both roads lead to a two-lane bridge. There is no room for an express lane, so you would have to make one long line of cars, each stopping to pay the toll. The traffic backup would be awful, especially during the season. It would make an already bad situation even worse.

Anyone who has driven out to the St. Petersburg beaches, with most of those roads leading to toll bridges, knows what a hassle they are. If Mr. Pritchett, the letter writer who thinks, “Toll bridges are the answer,” likes toll bridges that much, I suggest he move to St. Pete.

James Macholtz
Holmes Beach

Thanks for all the support

I just wanted to express a huge thank you to all the incredible people who came together to help with Austin’s benefit a few weeks ago. There must have been at least 100 donors/sponsors as well as the hundreds of people who attended and participated.

Much appreciation goes out to all the local businesses that helped by donating items and services for the auction. It’s scary to start to mention individuals because even if I leave someone out by accident, I’ll feel terrible. But, as always, there are a few leaders who really take the reins and charge ahead to make things happen. We would especially like to thank Adam and Marianne Ellis for hosting the event and providing the food; Joy Murphy for helping set up the trust; Deb and Nick Ibasfalean for gathering the donation jars, keeping them secure and counting money; and Jill Capparelli for taking donations. And to the angels of mercy, Ken and Beaner Chandler, Rob and Dina Frederick and Kirk Blumenstock, The generosity and caring actions of this community are a shining example of how people still know how to take care of each other. It truly makes me proud to say I live here.

Rick Martin

And more thanks

We just wanted to send out a great big thank you to everyone. Our hearts are overflowing from all the concern and love shown for us. So many people volunteered their time and money to make the fund-raiser a huge success. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Too many to even start mentioning individually. It was great to see old friends from 30 years ago and new friends all together. Some people didn’t even know us but wanted to show their support. We have an incredible community. Like one big family. Thank you everyone. We love you all.

Karen Goncalves

Parking plan a positive step

After hearing about new parking decks, toll booths, more bridges and inviting visitors to park at the elementary school, a lengthy study with common sense solution has been provided to address the congestion and safety issues we have on the Island. In addition, it ensures future beach renourishment is never jeopardized. After doing the proper homework, it seems Holmes Beach currently is providing many more parking spaces than is required for complete beach renourishment funding. The recommendation of the Congestion Committee, not only agrees to leave the over allotment of spaces, but also provides some additional spaces to accommodate our important visitors. The plan also protects our seniors and young children – hard to complain about this one.

William and Doreen Pastor
Holmes Beach


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