Cortez and FDOT: A bridge repair too far off in the future

June 22, 2013 

Government often moves at a glacial pace, and the latest example is baffling, to say the least.

The Florida Department of Transportation outlined plans to improve the aging Cortez Bridge to Manatee County commissioners on Tuesday. FDOT project manager Antone Sherrod noted that the 57-year-old span is "in pretty bad shape."

That doesn't come as a surprise when talk about possibly replacing the bridge has been heated for many years -- mostly with an uproar against a tall span. Now FDOT plans to spend three years just to study the span to determine repairs and costs.

Three years?

After preliminary work, the agency will unveil rehabilitation options at a public hearing in July 2014.

With design and construction, the entire project could take eight to 10 years. Apparently, there's no sense of urgency about fixing vital infrastructure that's in pretty bad shape but evidently not on the verge of collapse.

Imagine private enterprise taking three years just on a rehabilitation study. The company's collapse comes to mind.

This almost sounds like FDOT has dropped the idea of a tall bridge, but the agency continues to conduct surveys. In the latest, collected over the past few month, 51 percent of respondents favor further rehabilitation while 43 percent favor replacement. Of the latter, the majority live in Bradenton, not on the island.

Overall, 38 percent prefer a high-level fixed bridge, 19 percent a mid-level drawbridge and 33 percent a low-level drawbridge. So a tall span appears to be still in play.

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