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FDOT Presents Cortez Bridge Options to BOCC


BRADENTON — At Tuesday's meeting, the Florida Department of Transportation previewed four of the options to solving the Cortez Bridge's perils. Three of the choices keep a drawbridge in the design and one is a single-span fixed bridge that has little to no chance due to the pitching of the arch in the span.

FDOT began the Cortez Bridge Project Development and Environment  (PD&E) Study in January 2013. The PD&E study is scheduled for completion in Spring 2015.

The bridge was built in 1956 and has seen moderate repair in its time, but the PD&E study is to determine a long-term solution to the challenges and future of the bridge, which continues to see increased traffic to and from the island and mainland it connects.

Currently the bridge is getting some cosmetic and minor repair work, but at best those repairs are designed to carry the bridge for 10 years and with additional maintenance, carry the safety expiration date into 2034.

FDOT photo

Then, a rehabilitation of major repairs is expected to carry the bridge past the 10-year minor repair, another 25 years into 2049. 

A complete replacement of the bridge with a low level 21 foot vertical clearance drawbridge; a mid-level, 45 foot vertical clearance drawbridge, or a high-level, 65 foot vertical clearance are being discussed. Any new replacement is designed to carry the bridge to 2099, having a 75 year expiration date.

The existing vertical clearance of the Cortez Bridge is 17.5 feet at the Intracoastal Waterway. The U.S. Coast Guard establishes minimum navigational guide clearances at this location. They are 21-foot vertical clearance for a new drawbridge and 65-foot vertical clearance for a new fixed bridge.

Following completion of the PD&E study, whether the no-build repair, the rehabilitation, or the replacement option is selected, the design phase (preparation of construction plans) is funded in fiscal year 2016 of GFDOT's 5-Year Work Program. 

There is Right-of-way acquisition may be needed and construction phases are not currently funded in the program, which runs through mid-2019.

Over the year, 2015 meetings and reports will be held to determine the design.


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