MANATEE -- A $4 million repair of the Cortez Bridge is scheduled to start in late April and continue for eight or nine months.
The repair project is designed to provide 10 more years of use for the bridge, say officials with the Florida Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the project.
The repair is separate from FDOT's effort to find a long-term solution to replace or rehabilitate the bridge.
In January, FDOT began its Project Development and Environment Study to select suitable alternatives for the bridge's long-term future; that study is still continuing.
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But since the bridge is already in need of significant repairs, the project is designed as a stop-gap measure until a replacement decision is made, according to an FDOT report.
FDOT engineer Jim Jacobsen, who will lead the repair effort, will present an overview of what's ahead Tuesday at the Manatee County Commission meeting, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
The 2,617-foot bridge, which carries Cortez Road, links the village of Cortez on the mainland to Anna Maria Island.
Built in 1956, it has outlived
its 50-year design lifespan, and will continue to deteriorate due to "extremely aggressive" environmental conditions resulting from saltwater spray, the report states.
The two-lane bridge's current condition shows serious deck and seawall deterioration, and corroding beam supports, Jacobsen told the Herald on Friday.
"We'll be working on the seawall, the support pilings, the beams and also the deck and the sidewalk and railing, so pretty much, every concrete part of the bridge will have some type of repair work," said Jacobsen, FDOT's district structures maintenance engineer.
The start date for repairs was picked strategically to avoid both Easter and the busiest part of the area's winter tourist season, he said.
According to FDOT's report, repairs are slated for:
Steel, machinery and electrical equipment on the bridge's movable span.
Concrete beams and beam supports.
Deteriorated concrete throughout the bridge.
Bridge piling protection.
Nighttime lane closures are expected, with some late-night extended bridge openings.
Flaggers may close one lane from 9 p.m. -- 6 a.m.; temporary closures will delay traffic up to 15 minutes from midnight to 5 a.m., but intermittently, Jacobsen said.
"There will be stretches where they probably will have, during the week, several consecutive nights when they're working on deck," said Jacobsen. "When they're working underneath, we'll have a lane closure every third night."
As for emergency vehicles, FDOT has an arrangement to allow first-responders full access during the project.
"Emergency vehicles, we let them pass," said Jacobsen. "They have our bridge tender number, and we make sure fire rescue and ambulances have full access."
He would like to see repairs wrap up before the busiest part of the tourist season begins in February 2015, Jacobsen said.
As for traffic snarls resulting from the project, Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy isn't expecting much.
"I think it's all right," said Shaughnessy, whose community is on the bridge's western side. "It's better to close it at night than in the daytime.
"Usually, they close it all night, it really doesn't interfere with us that much," the mayor added.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.