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Fixed span meets needs for us, island

How predictable.

The Florida Department of Transportation officially announced the other day it wants to build a high-level fixed span to replace the old, low-level Anna Maria Island drawbridge.

And Save Anna Maria, longtime opponents of anything to do with a high-rise bridge, promised to fight it.

Ever get the feeling, after watching an issue evolve over the years, that the proverbial train is leaving the station and some people don’t know it?

That’s SAM.

A new bridge is coming.

It might be 10 years down the road, but it’s coming.

Regardless of whether SAM wants it.

The majority of island residents do, judging from comments I’ve gotten.

That also goes for us off-island residents, fellow taxpayers from Bradenton and beyond.

Despite how some people on the island act like it’s a gated community, it is part of Manatee County.

Easier access with an emphasis on public safety underlines the need for a new bridge.

Never mind hurricane evacuations, a major consideration.

We’re talking about emergency vehicles just trying to get someone to the hospital on a busy Saturday afternoon during the season, and there’s no room for motorists to pull over on the drawbridge.

A drawbridge that’s still functionally obsolete, FDOT said, even with last fall’s $11.2 million repair job.

A broader, high-level fixed span — FDOT recommends one with a 65-foot arch for U.S. Coast Guard approval — fits such a need.

As for SAM’s issues with destruction of seagrass beds?

Regulatory agencies won’t OK the project without environmental concerns being properly addressed.

The bridge closing because of an approaching hurricane’s high winds?

Evacuations would be carried out before.

Ruin the island’s character?

Please.

On the contrary, imagine the panoramic view it would give people bound for the island toward sunset.

If SAM doesn’t see it that way?

Too bad.

Mannix About Manatee, by local columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Please include a phone number for verification.

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