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The Cortez Bridge connects mainland Manatee County to Bradenton Beach. (File photo)
Longboat Key Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 6 years ago

Cortez Bridge repairs to begin in April

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

A $4 million Cortez Bridge repair project is scheduled to begin April 28, 2014, with estimated completion in early 2015.

The project aims to add 10 years of service life to the 57-year-old bridge, while officials develop a long-term solution for the bridge.

During repairs, flaggers may close one lane from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Temporary closures could delay traffic by 15 minutes from midnight to 5 a.m.

According to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the bridge is currently safe for traffic but has outlived its 50-year design service life by seven years. It needs significant repairs and will continue to deteriorate because of saltwater spray.

A Project Development & Engineering (PD&E) study of the bridge began in January and could take two or three years. FDOT has been surveying residents and stakeholders about whether they prefer a rehabilitation or replacement of the bridge. The agency has also asked respondents whether they favor a high-level fixed bridge, mid-level drawbridge, low-level drawbridge or other, if a replacement is necessary.

The latest survey of the 56-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.

Sufficiency ratings are used to determine whether a bridge should be repaired or replaced, and are also part of the formula the Federal Highway Administration uses to allocate funds for bridge replacement.

FDOT considers the Cortez Bridge “functionally obsolete,” meaning it doesn’t meet current road design standards, because of its lack of shoulders, 10-inch concrete roads separating travel lanes from the sidewalk, and old-style bridge railings.

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].

The bridge is also considered “structurally deficient,” meaning it needs a series of repairs or replacement within six years.

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