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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3 Manatee Audubon -- OPEN HOUSE at Felts Audubon Preserve
8:00 am - 11:00 am
19 Jewels on the Bay Showhouse
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
21 Taste of the Keys & Fashion Show
8 Sarasota Music Half Marathon
7:00 am - 6:00 am
Program to honor Sally Shapiro
Longboat Key resident Sally Shapiro loved music, and a special musical program her husband, Sam, organized will honor her memory.
Key of Sea seeks new voices
Key of Sea Chorus, which sings at assisted-living and retirement homes in the Sarasota area, is inviting new members to join.
Learn more about LBK Foundation
Want to know more about the Longboat Key Foundation, which is embarking on a $1 million fundraising drive, as reported in the Dec. 18 issue of the Longboat Observer?