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Cortez Bridge's Future to be Determined


BRADENTON -- In the Village of Cortez there are two things you don't mess with: the fishermen and the bridge. The fishermen come in all sizes of men and women. The bridge comes in just one size. Those who live in the century old fishing village don't want a fancy new bridge, but the county and state are trying to give them one.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is performing a PD&E (Project Development and Environmental) study about the condition and future needs of the Cortez Bridge. 

It started earlier this year, when FDOT distributed a survey, kicking off a process that will continue for two years, with scheduled meetings, workshops and citizen comments.

FDOT's District One Project Director, Tony Sherrard, presented the outline presentation to the MPO members. Sherrard started with a brief history, about how the bridge was built in 1956, as a two lane, 90 ft wide drawl bridge, with a height of only 17.5 ft from the water and then explained how none of those calculations measure up to the qualifications of today's bridges.

The villagers know the bridge needs work. It had two major repairs in '96, and it is currently getting a few minor fixes now. But residents say they should be the ones to decide on what bridge gets built. 

Go to wwwCortezbridge.com for details on the survey results, plus watch a video that was shown at the April 30, 2013 Kickoff Meeting.

Though it has exceeded its expected 50 year life span, the almost 60 year-old bridge has deteriorated from exposure to corrosive saltwater.

The bridge provides a connection between Manatee County mainland and Longboat Key, Anna Maria Island and Cocina Beach.

But the bridge, more than anything, is seen as a monument to the independence of Cortez, and no one needs to be there long to find that out.

The Bradenton Times will be following each step of the Cortez Bridge PD&E process.


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