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The Cortez Bridge connects mainland Manatee County to Bradenton Beach. (File photo)
Longboat Key Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014 5 years ago

Repair project on Cortez Bridge begins next week

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by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

A $4 million Cortez Bridge project is scheduled to begin April 28.

The project will extend the bridge’s life by approximately 10 years as Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) officials work with members of the community to determine the bridge’s long-term future.

FDOT scheduled the project to avoid peak season.

Lane closures will be limited to between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Extended bridge openings lasting more than 15 minutes will occur only between midnight and 5 a.m. From May 10 through Nov. 23, the bridge will operate single-leaf openings on demand but will require four-hour notice for double-leaf openings.

The expected completion date for the project is early 2015.

Built in 1956, the Cortez Bridge sits in a naturally corrosive salt-water environment and requires routine maintenance and repairs. It has exceeded its projected lifespan of 50 years.

FDOT considers the 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.

The most recent survey of the 58-year-old bridge occurred 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 is currently in the middle of a two- to three-year Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study that it began in January 2013 to determine the long-term future of the bridge. That study is not related to the $4 million repair project.

As part of the PD&E study, FDOT continues to seek community input about options for rehabilitating or replacing the bridge.

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]

 

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