Feb. 7, 1926 — The first causeway opened to the public. John Ringling spent $1 million to build the bridge but donated it to the city for maintenance.
1958 — A new drawbridge opened to traffic. One year later, the remains of the original bridge were torn down.
1990-1991 — The drawbridge got stuck in an open position on multiple occasions, prompting discussion about whether to repair or replace the bridge.
November 1992 — The Sarasota City Commission and Longboat Key Town Commission passed a nonbinding resolution during a joint meeting to endorse replacing the bridge.
January 1993 — The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) presented three alternatives during a series of community meetings: a 21-foot-high drawbridge identical to the existing bridge, a 45-foot-high drawbridge and a 65-foot-high drawbridge.
July 1997 — Sarasota city staffers presented a compromise plan to FDOT’s 65-foot-high bridge: a 48-foot drawbridge that would reduce bridge openings by 53%. FDOT rejected the compromise.
August 1997 — The Sarasota City Commission prepared a legal position for the city on the replacement of the bridge. An attorney collected thousands of FDOT documents, revealing that the agency started planning for the fixed-span bridge before the public-comment period ended. That finding formed the basis for a city lawsuit against FDOT.
April 1998 — The city filed a petition challenging the state’s approval of the fixed-span bridge.
September 1999 — A judge ruled that FDOT acted properly in approving the bridge.
September 2000 — The U.S. Coast Guard issued a construction permit.
April 2001 — The First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee affirmed the FDOT process leading up to the fixed-span bridge. The ruling meant that FDOT was allowed to begin construction.
August 2001 — PCL Civil Constructors Inc. began the design-build process.
Aug. 31, 2003 — More than 2,400 people participated in the 5K and 10K runs to celebrate the opening of the John Ringling Causeway Bridge.
Sept. 15, 2003 — The new bridge opened to traffic around 3 a.m. The opening was delayed by one day because of rain.
October 2003 — The demolition of the old drawbridge began.
August 2008 — After a petition circulated to change the name of the John Ringling Causeway Bridge to the Gil Waters Bridge, the Sarasota City Commission opted to keep the name, but put up a plaque to recognize Waters for his vision.
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2 Power Networking Seminar
4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
2 Florida's Children First 2014 Sarasota Reception
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
16 Pillar of Hope Open House
5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
16 Business After Hours Networking Event
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Correction: Heitlers to net 75 years in April
In its Sept. 18 issue, the Longboat Observer featured Plymouth Harbor resident George Heitler, a lifelong tennis player who has played tennis for most of his 99 years and is a regular at the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center.
Win big in two Observer contests
Starting in October, the Observer will now offer prizes for winners of the weather photo contest, sponsored by Manasota Flooring Inc.
Mar Vista begins dock construction
Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub is on track to have a new dock by the end of October.