Anna Maria Island traffic worsening while state ignores good solution

March 30, 2014 

Thanks to Katie Pierola for her March 26 letter on bridges to our island, but the "our" is becoming increasingly questionable. And I hope FDOT and many Longboat Key residents read this.

I am a fifth generation local, and a former Anna Maria Island elected official. I have been deeply involved in the bridge battles since 1989 when Longboat/Coquina Beach traffic began to seriously affect our way of life.

And it has exacerbated, annually, ever since.

This year is absolutely the worst, with daily traffic backups on Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road.

Sunday at 1:35 p.m. it required nearly an hour to return to the island from 86th Street West on Cortez, with both lanes at crawling speed. Each day it is the same situation from Longboat Pass bridge to Cortez Road.

A plan was submitted, as acknowledged by former Bradenton Beach Mayor Pierola, to serve the LBK and Coquina traffic and nearly eliminate the problems, to which FDOT responded with a "charrette" which should have been called a charade.

Totally researched, the plan called for an extension of 53rd's potentially four lanes across a plowed field, a low overpass over 86th just north of the gate house, through the mangrove swamp 18 feet above high water mark, to the extent of Tidy Island, then a gentle five degree left turn, elevated over the Intracoastal, and coming down some 800 feet north of the Longboat Pass bridge.

Outboard lanes would serve Coquina and inboard lanes would swing toward the LBK bridge.

Consider the narrow part of the bay, an area of least seagrass, and direct mainland access onto and an extended state highway.

I wonder how unbearable it will be next year, since the infrastructure is already totally inadequate.

Jim Kissick

Bradenton Beach

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