MANATEE -- The start of construction of a bridge over the Manatee River came a step closer to reality Friday after the U.S. Coast Guard issued its permit for a bridge at Fort Hamer.
"The Coast Guard has taken final agency action for the Ft. Hamer Bridge project, and the bridge permit has been issued," said Randall Overton, bridge management specialist for the U.S. Coast Guard's 7th district.
The Coast Guard's permit followed closely that of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which was issued earlier this week.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District has also granted permit for the project, officials said.
The URS Corp. completed a final environmental impact statement last spring for Manatee County.
The bridge would span the Manatee River and connect two existing roads: Upper Manatee River Road on the river's south side and Fort Hamer Road on its north shore. Two related road projects -- improvements to Upper Manatee River Road from State Road 64 to the future bridge, and from Fort Hamer Road on what will be the north end of the bridge landing to U.S. 301 -- could start sooner, before the end of this year, county officials have said. The bridge is expected to cost between $21 million and $23 million, county officials have said.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter