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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

DOT pushes back Key Royale Bridge construction

Seems like the Florida Department of Transportation is trying to drop construction of a new Key Royale Bridge in Holmes Beach in its future plans.

The DOT had already moved construction of the bridge to its 2008-09 budget year before the Holmes Beach city commission last year took the bridge by its handrails and voted to spend the city's own money for a new bridge and be reimbursed in a future DOT budget.

That sounded like a good plan as the commission expected construction to begin this year, but Mayor Carol Whitmore told commissioners at their Jan. 11 meeting that the DOT won't start until January 2006, a full year away.

That despite the fact that the city has funded construction of the bridge in its 2004-05 budget.

Whitmore said DOT officials claim it will take that long to get a U.S. Coast Guard permit for construction. Efforts to get DOT to build a new Key Royale Bridge have been ongoing for the past five years.

In other business, Whitmore told commissioners that a contract to remove mold from city hall has gone out to bid, Manatee County traffic engineers will assist the city with planning some traffic calming measures for Marina Drive by the Wachovia Bank, and Banks Engineering is designing a plan to relocate the city's leaking drainage system underneath the Pure Oil station at the Gulf Drive-Marina Drive intersection.

Commissioners also heard from County Commissioner Joe McClash about the proposed county charter (see separate story), but McClash also brought good news.

The deal for emergency beach renourishment of much of Anna Maria's shoreline by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is back on track after the Corps said the beach needs renourishment desperately and it would follow quality control guidelines for the renourished sand.

"They can't completely guarantee the quality," said McClash, but County Environmental Systems Manager Charlie Hunsicker, who had originally opposed the Corps plan, was satisfied with their efforts.

McClash also said commissioners will look at purchasing Leverock's restaurant at the east end of the Anna Maria Island Bridge for a boat ramp, although he understood that the land is only leased. However, he added, he understood that a group of investors was looking into purchasing the property along with the Perico Bay Marina for a condominium venture. The marina is within the Bradenton city limits, while Leverock's is not, he said (see separate story this week).

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