Vol. 14 No. 45 - September 3, 2014
The bridges of Manatee County
In the past 22 years, nothing has been as controversial as the future of the two drawbridges from the mainland to Anna Maria Island.
The controversy began when the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) tried to run roughshod over the residents of the Island and replace the Manatee Avenue Bridge with a 65-foot-high fixed span bridge.
The residents who opposed the tall bridge formed a committee called Save Anna Maria (SAM) and fought FDOT successfully. The old bridge stayed and its future is set for a while.
Now the state is looking to replace or rehabilitate the Cortez Bridge and FDOT has given the public the opportunity to express their views.
The last hearing was Aug. 28, and people who attended were asked to write down their views and turn them in. FDOT got 40 comment sheets at that meeting and you can go to www.cortezbridge.com and print a copy of a comment sheet and mail it in before Sept. 8.
The choices FDOT gave were to replace the 17.5-foot-high drawbridge with a similarly sized 22.5-foot-high drawbridge, continue to patch the old bridge, replace it with a 45-foot-high drawbridge or replace it with the 65-foot-high fixed-span.
The Sun asked readers what type of bridge they preferred at Cortez, and 50 percent of the respondents wanted to keep the low-level drawbridge or replace it with a similar structure. Thirty percent wanted to replace it with a high, fixed span.
The problem with the tall bridge is it would be out of character with the fishing village of Cortez and it would require more room for the approaches.
The Sun has a two-part recommendation for maximum access to the barrier islands. First, replace the low-level drawbridge with another low-level drawbridge. The old structure is more than a half-century old and a tall bridge would dwarf the historic fishing village it would serve.
Secondly, The Sun recommends the state take a serious look at a new bridge to Longboat Key, likely running from 53rd Avenue on the mainland. This bridge would well serve residents of both islands by easing traffic congestion year round and would speed evacuation during hurricanes and storms.
HOW TO WRITE US
Got an opinion, a complaint or a compliment? Is there something you need to get off your chest? Send us a letter to the editor and have your say. There are several ways to make your opinion known.
Visit our website at www.amisun.com and click on the "contact us" link at the top of the home page. Or, email The Sun directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer the old-fashioned way you can mail a letter to us at The Anna Maria Island Sun, Island Sun Plaza, P.O. Box 1189, Anna Maria, FL 34216.
Letters should be kept to 300 words or less and should contain your name and the city in which you reside. Personal attacks and obscene language will not be printed. Letters also may be edited for length and content.