Longboat Key, Florida | May 7th, 2019 – Living in Longboat Key won’t be complete without its residents enjoying an occasional visit to Anna Maria Island just across Longboat Pass on the north end of town. For this reason, a lot of townsfolks are happy to know that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is set to begin this May a $3.8 million project to repair and upgrade the drawbridge across Longboat Pass.
Already 62 years old, this 2,100-foot span will undergo structural repairs of its steel components as well as on its movable span road deck. The bridge’s steel beams will be reinforced, along with upgrades on the fender system, the traffic signals, and the bridge pilings to address corrosion.
To overhaul the bridge’s structure, the bascule span steel will also be repaired, while the machinery frame, drive and electrical systems, and span locks will be reconditioned. The steel will be cleaned and repainted too.
Minimal Traffic Disruption
The FDOT is notably exerting efforts to minimize the impact of the bridge rehabilitation to local traffic while work on the span is ongoing. A barge will be used as the base for most of the work, and will be mostly a graveyard shift operation between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Thus, one lane of the bridge will be passable to traffic at all times, except for some 15-minute total closure between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Channel navigation on Longboat Pass is likely to be undisturbed too, given that the project has the stamp of approval from the U.S. Coast Guard.
Pedestrian access though will be limited while the project is ongoing. This constraint, however, is for just a few months, as the work on the bridge is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving.
The bridge makeover, according to FDOT officials, should extend the span’s life by another 10 to 15 years. The agency considers the span as still safe, but it nonetheless proceeded with the makeover because the structure’s location now threatens to accelerate the deterioration of the span’s mechanical, electrical, and structural components. The FDOT will start a study in 2020 to ascertain if long-term repairs are needed on the bridge or if it should be replaced.
Plan for New Roundabout
Meanwhile, another project—a roundabout—is planned for construction on the north end of Longboat Key at the Broadway Street‒Gulf of Mexico Drive intersection. This project is designed to moderate traffic flow and allow safer pedestrian crossing.
With the roundabout in place, it is likewise expected that left-turns from Broadway onward to Gulf of Mexico Drive would be more convenient to drivers. The roundabout is also seen as a new landmark gateway to Longboat Key.
There is no timetable yet for the construction of the roundabout, but the town has already budgeted $150,000 in fiscal 2018‒19 to begin its design. Completion of an environmental analysis and project development is also first needed, the FDOT indicated.
Such preliminaries are needed not only to ascertain if the roundabout poses any environmental impact but also to have the project qualify for federal or state construction funds. This roundabout is expected to cost $2 million which is not budgeted yet but may be included in the FDOT’s five-year capital improvement program.
The same steps could be expected on a second roundabout also considered on Longboat Key. This one is eyed for construction at Gulf of Mexico Drive and Longboat Club Road, where a traffic light now regulates traffic.
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