LONGBOAT KEY -- Work on the balky drawbridge on Longboat Pass, which connects Anna Maria Island with Longboat Key, continued Wednesday with officials saying hopefully it will reopen soon.
The drawbridge mechanism jammed over the weekend after the bridge alignment shifted a couple of inches, which locked it in the down position, according to Robin Stublen, spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation, which is coordinating repairs. The shift also caused a large crack in the concrete bridge structure.
Cars, cyclists and pedestrians are still allowed to use the bridge, which Stublen emphasized was stable.
The drawbridge is the main concern, but Stublen said bridge maintenance will be ongoing in the coming months to address other problems caused by the mysterious shift. The crack isn't a concern, he said.
"The crack is purely cosmetic," Stublen said. "If you look at bridges around here, there are always cracks. It's not an issue."
Officials found the drawbridge was not working at noon Friday and soon realized a shift had occurred although they still do not know the reason why. Repair crews contracted by FDOT started working on the drawbridge at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
The gap between the draw
bridge and concrete portions of the bridge widened to 4 inches Saturday but stabilized by 7 that night, according to Stublen. A normal gap is 1 1/2 inches.
There is drilling going on underneath the bridge as the town of Longboat Key puts in a standard portable water line, which Juan Florensa, public works director of Longboat Key, said is being installed to update the old line underneath the bridge.