BRADENTON -- The Florida Department of Transportation held a public information meeting Tuesday night on the $4 million Cortez Bridge repair project.
The public was invited to the open house at the Kirkwood Presbyterian Church, 6101 Cortez Road, where FDOT representatives and members of the project team answered questions and concerns.
Propped on easels on either end of a large room, huge white posters were lined with information and visuals about the project set to begin Monday.
A few people stopped in front of the posters, squinting at the written information.
"Lane closures between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m... Bridge openings between midnight and 5 a.m.," read one poster.
Another poster listed areas being repaired, which include the span, beams, pilings, seawall, bridge tender house and an electric system upgrade.
"People are happy about the repairs, which will add 10 years of useful life to the bridge," said Robin Stublen, FDOT communications specialist for District One. "The bridge is structurally sound right now, but it's also structurally obsolete."
Stublen said repairs will take care of distress on the bridge caused by saltwater corrosion.
Benjamin Loeser, FDOT design project manager, said the department is rehabbing the bridge to maintain it for about a decade until it can complete the Cortez Bridge Project Development and Environment study. The study, separate from the bridge repair project, focuses on the future of the bridge.
The contractor behind the project is Quinn Construction Inc. of Palmetto.
"Since we have a lot of the restrictions for the lane closures, it's definitely going to limit the contractor working as efficiently as possibly they could," Loeser said. "They're going to have a lot to do."
Bradenton Beach resident James Kissick, 89, sat at one of several tables placed in the middle of the church for the open house. His family moved to the city from Terra Ceia in 1945.
Kissick said he remembers when the Cortez Bridge was a wooden structure, and spoke in detail about how he'd have to wait until a car got off to get on the bridge when it was a one-lane structure. He's seen the evolution of the Cortez Bridge throughout the years.
"I'm all for fixing the thing," he said.
Amaris Castillo, Law Enforcement/Island Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.