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FDOT staff recommends replacing bridge to Anna Maria Island


SARASOTA - Staffers with the Florida Department of Transportation on Monday gave a recommendation to the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization regarding the State Road 64 bridge that connects Perico Island to Anna Maria Island.

The best option is to replace it, the DOT said.

The Project Development and Environment Study also noted that there is no funding for the project in the DOT's work program for fiscal years 2010 through 2014.

"At this time, there's no current program phase beyond our current work program," DOT project manager Chris Piazza said.

The DOT will also make a presentation on the project to the Manatee County Commission on Tuesday at the commission's regular meeting.

Katie Pierola, the former mayor of Bradenton Beach, said in the public comments phase that she just wanted to make sure the rules were being followed.

"What worries me, I think there may be some abuses of power going on because in March of '08, $140 million was requested by (U.S. Rep. Vern) Buchanan's office, and which included the demolition of the only bridge," she said. "It was made public in November '08 at a Manatee County meeting. And I'm very worried about it."

Jim Kissick raised weather issues that concerned him about the height of the bridge. He said he sought information from the National Hurricane Center about the effect of wind on the bridge.

Kissick said that he was told that the lower bridge is, the longer it could be used in a high-wind situation.

The recommended replacement for the current bridge would be a 65-foot-tall fixed-span bridge with two 12-foot lanes for traffic at 45 mph, two 10-foot shoulders and two sidewalks, Piazza said. The new bridge would be located 10 to 14 feet south of the current bridge and would require some right of way from submerged lands.

The alternatives considered for dealing with the bridge included interim improvements to the bridge; maintenance and repair of the current bridge for 10 years, with no closures of the bridge; and major repairs after that which could extend the life of the bridge for 15 years more but then require periodic bridge closures and a new bridge at the 25-year mark.

Piazza said DOT's study, taken through April 9, found that 17 percent of the 463 people surveyed favored rehabilitation of the bridge, while 83 percent favored replacement. Of the latter group, 77 percent favored a high-level fixed bridge, 15 percent favored a low-level drawbridge, 7 percent favored a mid-level drawbridge and 1 percent favored another option.


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