Issues to Watch 2014: Cortez Bridge

 

Issues to Watch 2014: Cortez Bridge

 

Date: January 8, 2014
by: Robin Hartill | News Editor

 
 

The new year won’t bring a new Cortez Bridge, but it will bring traffic delays that come with a $4 million repair project that’s scheduled to begin April 28 and be completed in early 2015.

In 2014, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will also continue a Project Development & Engineering (PD&E) study of the bridge that began in January 2013 and will eventually result in a decision for the long-term future of the bridge.

According to FDOT, the bridge is currently safe for traffic but has outlived its 50-year design service life by seven years.

The latest survey of the 57-year-old bridge took place in April 2012, according to FDOT’s website. At the time, the bridge received a sufficiency rating of 21.7 and a health-index score of 75.65, both on a 100-point scale.

A health rating below 85 generally indicates that repairs are necessary, although it doesn’t mean the bridge is unsafe. The lower the rating, the better chance it is that replacing the bridge would be more economical than repairing it.

In April and May, FDOT surveyed residents and stakeholders of areas surrounding the bridge about whether they favored a rehabilitation or replacement of the structure.

Approximately 51% of the 850 respondents favored further rehabilitation of the bridge, while 43% favored replacement.

The PD&E study team is reviewing replacement options, including a low-level drawbridge, mid-level drawbridge and high-level fixed-span designs. It’s also studying a rehabilitation project that could extend the bridge’s service life by approximately 25 years and a no-build alternative that would require continuing maintenance to keep the bridge safe for another 10 years.

FDOT will hold a public workshop in early 2014 and a formal public hearing in the summer.

The agency will use the input to make a recommendation to the Federal Highway Administration, which will have the final say about the bridge’s future.

Expect the Cortez Bridge’s future to be a topic of discussion beyond 2014: The PD&E study is scheduled to continue through spring 2015.

BREAKDOWN
Overview:
A $4 million repair project for the Cortez Bridge is scheduled to begin April 28 and be completed in early 2015. Plans for a new bridge are also being discussed.

Players: Florida Department of Transportation, Key residents

Timeline: FDOT will continue to gather public input about the bridge’s future. It will hold a public workshop in early 2014 and a formal public hearing in the summer.

Contact Robin Hartill at rhartill@yourobserver.com

 

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