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Manatee Co. neighbors plan to continue fight with FDOT over Cortez Bridge

Posted at 6:20 PM, Dec 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 05:51:53-05

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — The fight over the Cortez Bridge in Manatee County still continues after two years. The 17-foot drawbridge connects Anna Maria Island to the rest of Manatee County.

The Florida Department of Transportation plans to move forward with it's plan to rebuild the bridge to be a fixed 65-feet-high, but locals are against it.

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"There's no real choice to go for the 65-foot bridge which will impact this village," said Jane VonHahmann.

She and her husband are native Floridians. They've lived in Cortez for more than a decade, and love their beach side town.

VonHahmann is a former county commissioner and former member of the Metropolitan Planning Organization. She agrees, the bridge needs to be repaired.

She and many of her neighbors are willing to talk to FDOT about a 35-foot draw bridge.

"You could have a very positive conversation with almost everyone about that," she said.

But, FDOT isn't willing to budge. It dismissed the petition neighbors submitted and said a 35-foot bridge will cost $24 million more to build than a 65-foot one.

FDOT also says getting rid of the draw bridge will move traffic through faster.

"There's nothing that this bridge is going to do about getting that traffic on to that beach any faster," said VonHahmann. "It just makes no sense."

Neighbors plan to continue fighting. They're not sure what to do next, and may file an appeal.

"There's time," VonHahmann said. "We have nothing but time until 2025."