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Date of Issue: December 07, 2006

Cortez Road DOT work gets rated

The widening of Cortez Road took longer and cost more to complete than first forecast, but a survey shows public satisfaction with the once contentious project.

The Florida Department of Transportation oversaw the $2.5 million project in the fishing village between 119th Street West and the Cortez drawbridge.

The project began in August 2005 and involved widening Cortez Road and adding a left-turn lane, bike paths, sidewalks, a pedestrian oasis, and improved traffic control devices and signals.

The road work drove some motorists to skirt Cortez to avoid delays.

"I come out here most days to fish," said Mac Turner, of Bradenton. "But it got to be that I'd either go up to a pier in Anna Maria or drive south to Sarasota to come around up on the Island. I just didn't want to deal with the traffic.

"I know the construction had to hurt businesses here because I usually stop in for dinner on the way home and, for a while, I just went somewhere else," he continued.

The bulk of the construction ended by April 1.

"I think it's a real nice job," said Paul Hudson, of Cortez. "It was real difficult to get in and out of here for awhile, but it came out real nice."

Hudson's opinion is similar to the many assessments collected by Dave Parks, of Global-5 Inc., a public relations firm hired by the DOT to conduct public surveys during and following the construction project.

Parks distributed 80 questionnaires among residents and business operators in Cortez asking them to rate the construction project. He went door to door in the community, as well as handed out surveys at several public forums.

The survey asked the public to rate the effectiveness of DOT's public information effort, the construction work and the completed project. Questions included: Did the state provide ample notification of the project? Could people walk or bicycle safely along the road during construction? Was access to property marked and visible? Was dust from the project reasonably controlled? Are you satisfied with the smoothness of the pavements and the marking and signs?

"For the most part people seemed to be pleased with the project," Parks said. "I would say about 90 percent of the people I spoke with were pleased."

"The road's fast and clear," said Turner. "I'd say it's a good project and people ought to be pleased with it."

Parks said one repeated complaint he received was about the brick paving.

"There were a handful of negatives," Parks said. "The biggest complaint was the brick pavers that were installed and the noise they generate. People said they would lay there in bed and hear the cars go zipping across."

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