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Bridge repairs and replacement progress

by Roger Pettingell

Two bridge projects on barrier islands

Repairs to Longboat Pass and FDOT options to replace Cortez bridge

Longboat Pass bridge
Repairs of Longboat Pass Bridge - Crews work on the Longboat Pass bridge on the north end

The north end of the barrier islands, Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island, have been the subject of construction projects with plans for the future. Two projects are in the works, the Florida Department of Transportation has started work on the Longboat Pass bridge and is reviewing plans to alleviate congestion with new designs for the Cortez bridge.

The $5.2 million of repairs to the Longboat Pass bridge will add 10 more years of life to the 60-year-old bridge. Although considered safe to cross, the extended life will give FDOT time to research the best course of action for the future of the bridge. The Longboat Pass connects Longboat Key to the south end of Bradenton Beach where Coquina Beach is located. The drawbridge also connects the intracoastal waterway to the Gulf of Mexico for boaters.

Drivers and boaters have seen little impact to their commutes. There have been minimal lane closures during the day as most work continues during the nighttime hours between 9 PM and 6 AM. There is no work scheduled on weekends. The walkways for pedestrians will be impacted by closures. Procedures are in place to ensure emergency vehicles can cross in a timely manner.

Construction will affect boat traffic, mainly sail boaters with masts to exceed 17 feet that require the drawbridge to be raised as a passage to the Gulf. Before the work boaters could request an opening 24 hours a day. During construction the bridge operator will honor requests at 10 AM, 2 PM and 6 PM, with a 30-minute window at each of the three times. Boaters can hail the operator with one long and one short blast on the horn. They also monitor VHF channel 9 for requests.

Alternatives for boaters are to the north through the Cortez and Manatee drawbridges or to the south through New Pass bridge or the open waters of Big Sarasota Pass. Recent dredging projects have made these waterways more accessible to boaters with deep drafts. Still, caution should be exercised.

Repairs include the drawbridge grid deck, concrete road deck, reinforcement of steel beams, railings, underwater erosion protection, fender repairs, and mechanical and electrical systems. Longboat Key was dismissed from a lawsuit last year when the bridge was damaged by a contractor replacing a water pipe under the bridge in 2014.

FDOT Cortez Bridge simulation
FDOT posted a simulation of the proposed fixed-bridge

Over the last decade FDOT has reviewed changes to the bridge that crosses over from Cortez to Bradenton Beach. The two-lane drawbridge has been a nuisance to visitors attempting to cross the bridge as the volume mounts in peak season and the bridge has a liberal open rate for boaters. Three major repairs to the bridge since 1996 have been costly and future repairs will drive up costs even more. The last repair in 2015 extended the life of the 63-year-old bridge another 10 years.

FDOT presented two options in August 2017. The first is a replacement drawbridge that extended the closed height clearance from 17.5 feet to 35 feet. The second option presented is to have a fixed Ringling Bridge style with a 65-foot clearance. The department has announced it will make its final presentation and propose one of the solutions, possibly as soon as this month.

The most feasible is the fixed-bridge option, as revealed by those close to the project. A simulation was released that includes two lanes with a 10-foot wide pedestrian and bicycle crossing. The bridge will require a higher elevation at the beginning and touchdown points on both sides of the bridge. The projected cost is $75 million, and FDOT suggests it will save money over time by reducing maintenance and bridge tender labor costs.

The beginning and end points have residents concerned. Cortez home owners contend that the higher elevation will split the town in half. Cortez is a historic fishing village that flourished for many years before gill netting was banned in 1994. The village continues with seafood restaurants, some commercial fishing and is home to the Florida Maritime Museum.

On the other end in Bradenton Beach businesses with hotels say the elevated bridge will block the view that many of their patrons enjoy. The increased volume of traffic will also increase congestion at the Gulf Drive intersection, the two-lane north and south main road on Bradenton Beach that is controlled through a single traffic light. A roundabout at the intersection has been in discussion outside of the bridge project.

In 2017 the U.S. Coast guard reduced the bridge openings from three times an hour to twice an hour, at 15 minutes and 45 minutes after the hour between 6 AM and 7 PM. Bridge tenders can be hailed in the same manner of horn blasts and Channel 9 transmissions.

Last week I listed a home for sale at TPC Prestancia. Overlooking the 3rd hole of Stadium Golf Course, this lovely 4BR residence abounds in updates and custom features. Situated on a nearly 1/2-acre, estate-sized parcel offering tranquil views that stretch out to the lake. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
3988 Losillias Drive $949,000 Video Photo Slideshow

 

Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing

 

Heritage Days in Festival Series

by Roger Pettingell

Manatee County Heritage Days in March

A special event for each day of the month is planned for the county

Florida Maritime Museum 1912 Schoolhouse on the Cortez Nature Preserve
Florida Maritime Museum - One of the historical parks in Manatee County with many events planned.

As we approach March we begin the start of multiple-week festivals, the first of which starts Friday for the entire month, the 40th Annual Manatee Heritage Days. Nearly every day there is a program at one of 13 participating organizations to display the wealth of history in the county. Some of the historical sites that require admissions have waived their fees on special days during the month to highlight their programs.

The special events are also meant to draw attention to the historical parks in the county. These are the Manatee Village Historical Park in Bradenton, The Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez, the Manatee County Historical Records Library in Bradenton, the Palmetto Historical Park and the Manatee County Agricultural Museum in Palmetto. Each has its own unique records for preserving the heritage of the county.

When Manatee County had reached its legal population in 1855, it was formed as the size of seven current counties. Hardee, Desoto, Highlands, Charlotte and Glade counties were separated out on May 9, 1887. Sarasota County was split off on May 14, 1921. The Historical Records Library has files from all seven counties dating back to 1856.

Heritage Days events slated for the historical parks in Manatee County

The Manatee Village Historical Park at 1404 Manatee Avenue East preserves the early history of this large land mass, comparable to the size of Connecticut when all the counties were combined as one. Some buildings of the period from 1840 to 1918 have been restored and are open to the public.

In the village are an original general store, church, courthouse, school and blacksmith shop. The pioneer Stephens family of 12 has their 1912 home preserved in the village. The history of Manatee County wouldn’t be complete without mention of John Fogarty and the family shipbuilding business. One of his original boat works buildings is in the park. The Fogartys settled along the Manatee River because there was a prevalence of wood for shipbuilding and fishing was a way of life for them.

On March 6 there is a free two-hour walking tour of Fogartyville starting at 10 AM as part of Heritage Days. The Historical Park is open 9 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday, and the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. Free guided walking tours are available through reservations on their website. These 45-minute separate tours explore the village and 1850 burial grounds.

The Florida Maritime Museum in the historical fishing village of Cortez is home to cultural maritime artifacts packed into a restored 1912 school house on four acres of land on 119th Street. For Heritage Days there is a special coffee with the staff on March 23 from 9 to 11 AM. The museum is free and open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM. With the permanent exhibits, temporary displays continue the mission of providing education of the fishing culture. The current exhibit is Always Ready, featuring the U.S. Coast Guard in Florida.

A special fundraising dinner with Pulitzer-prize winning author Jack E. Davis at the Seafood Shack in Cortez is set for 6 PM on March 14. He will discuss topics from his book The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea. Profits from the dinner will add to the museum donation campaign to raise $34,290, which will be matched by the Manatee County Tourist Development Council when the goal is reached.

The Folk School at the Florida Maritime Museum is a converted early American store and post office that served the fishing village. The Burton Store was the first commercial building in the village, constructed in 1890 on the Cortez waterfront. It was later expanded into the Albion Inn on the current site of the U.S. Coast Guard Station. In 1991 the inn was demolished and the original building was moved to its current location on the grounds of the museum. The beautifully restored building opened in February of last year. The classes are taught by professionals that preserve the traditional skills of the Florida fishing culture. Registration is required and a list of classes is on their website. The Pillsbury Boatshop and a Chickee Hut are also on the museum grounds.

The first county archival library in Florida is located within the Carnegie Library at 1405 4th Avenue, West in Bradenton. Built in 1918 the Carnegie Library has been on the U.S Department of the Interior’s Registry of Historic Sites since 1987. A treasure of collections exist within the Manatee County Historic Records Library.

The records that date back to the beginning of Manatee County include maps, public family records, county commission minutes, real estate records and court filings. The library is free to use but there are charges for copies, photos can be taken by your personal camera without a fee. The library is open during the week from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. As part of Heritage Days a two-hour walking tour of the historic buildings in downtown Bradenton is scheduled for March 13, beginning at 10 AM.

The Manatee County Agricultural Museum provides a hands-on learning experience for school children through group tours and specially designed educational programs. School field trips designed around local agriculture are also arranged through the museum located at 1015 6th Street in Palmetto. The Hall of Fame is a permanent exhibit at the museum, drawing attention to prominent citizens of Manatee County, two each year from 1967 to present.

The Palmetto Heritage Festival will be held at the museum and the Palmetto Historical Park from 10 AM to 2 PM on March 9. The local post office will be conducting a special one-day stamp cancellation in honor of the Heritage Days festivities. Live music, food, demonstrations and building tours are planned for this special day. A Chicken & Yellow Rice luncheon will be served at the Woman’s Club of Palmetto starting at 11 AM.

On March 27, a special Heritage Days, Ag at Night program is scheduled to begin at 7 PM at the museum. Based on the theme Eat Your Fruits and Veggies, the presentation will focus on growing these edible plants in the sunshine of Florida. For adults only, pre-registration is required by email or through their special event website. The Ag at Night program is a series with continuing dates of Homesteading in Florida on May 29 with Plants and Pollinators scheduled for July 31.

Other Manatee County programs and festivals centered around Heritage Days

DeSoto National Memorial - National Park Service
Camp Uzita - Daily programs and a special event on March 23 is in the plans at DeSoto National Memorial.

Travel back in time to 1539 when the Hernando DeSoto expedition began its reign of conquests in the area. Demonstrations at Camp Uzita in the DeSoto National Memorial of Bradenton will highlight the clothing and armor worn by the explorers. Spanish and Native American life of the times will be discussed in these programs four times a day, starting with the first at 10 AM Thursday through Sunday. While DeSoto was searching north for gold, 100 of his men protected his supplies at Camp Uzita. On March 23 a special presentation, Five Centuries of Florida History, will feature over 30 actors who will reenact different periods from DeSoto to present day in the memorial park.

A history of tourism in Manatee County will be on display in a month-long exhibit, Marvelous Manatee, in the Eaton Historical room of the county central library located at 1301 Barcarrota Boulevard in Bradenton. This exhibit celebrates the changes in tourism from the 1900s to present. The exhibit is open at different times of day, Monday through Saturday.

Each Friday of March a free Music in the Park concert will be held at the Riverwalk Mosaic Amphitheater in downtown Bradenton. Food and beverage sales benefit Realize Bradenton, your chairs or blankets are welcome while enjoying local band music that starts at 6 PM. The group BABYL will take the stage March 15, followed by Kettle of Fish, March 22 and Passerine, March 29.

Enjoy free open houses of the 19th century house that serves as the visitor center for Robinson Preserve and the Jiggs Landing Fish Camp cabin each Saturday during Heritage Days. Explore the historic house with its flora at Robinson Preserve, the history of Palma Sola and review photos of the home that was transported from Palmetto through the Manatee River to its current location. The replicated Jiggs Landing cabin will serve as the venue for a presentations on the history of Jiggs Landing, Braden River and Evers Reservoir. It will be open from 9 AM to 1 PM each Saturday.

Mainly Art featuring local artisans will expand the Farmer’s Market during Heritage Days in historic downtown Bradenton from 9 AM to 2 PM each Saturday in March. Family activities are also planned for these pet-friendly events, free to the public with free parking on Saturdays.

There are vents planned for nearly every day through the month, associated with Heritage Days. Some of the most notable not mentioned above include the Anna Maria Island Historical Society Annual Heritage Day festival this Saturday starting at 9 AM in the Historical Park on Pine Avenue. The Parrish Heritage Days Parade and Festival starts at Parrish United Methodist Church and ends at the festival grounds of the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish. A Chili cookoff, local bands perform and family-oriented experiences are also planned.

On Sunday the Gamble Plantation tour will be free for the historic state park’s annual open house. Open from 10 AM to 3 PM, volunteers will dress in clothing of the era from the 1840s to 1870s. The 4th Florida Volunteer Infantry will re-enact a Confederate encampment on the grounds of the plantation in Ellenton.

The Winter Seminar of the Manatee Genealogical Society will be hosted at the Manatee Technical College on March 16 from 8 AM to 4 PM. The editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly journal, Dr. Thomas W. Jones, will be the featured speaker. Visit their website for more information and to register for this Heritage Days event. Also on that Saturday, meet historical fiction author Peggy Donoho, and follow the discussion of her great-grandparents Miguel and Frederica Guerrero starting at 10 AM in the Palmetto Historical Park.

There will be a reception for members and volunteers of the Reflections of Manatee at the Theodosia Curry Museum House in East Bradenton from 5 to 7 PM on March 23. An exhibit funded by the Florida Humanities Council will highlight the Angola’s Freedom Seekers and the Florida Underground Railroad. The display with special guests will be open to the public on March 30 starting at 10 AM, closing at noon.

A guided tour of the historic 1899 Alkire home on Riverside Drive in Palmetto will be open to the first 30 people who register for the event at their Eventbrite special webpage. This historic home has been beautifully restored by its current owners. The tour is sponsored by the Palmetto Historical Park and Manatee County Agricultural Museum. All the events for Heritage Days are listed on the upcoming events page.

I listed two residences for sale last week in Longboat Key and Sarasota. The top-floor residence at 2450 Harbourside Dr, #253 offers striking panoramic views of downtown Sarasota, tranquil bay waters and the Gulf. Chic upgrades adorn every room of this direct bayfront residence in the sought-after community of Lawrence Pointe at 99 Sunset Dr, #102. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
2450 Harbourside Dr, #253 $1,095,000 Video Photo Slideshow
99 Sunset Dr, #102 $999,000 Video Photo Slideshow

 

Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing

 

Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez

by Roger Pettingell

Coastal Community Celebration last week

Admission is free to this little museum gem devoted to fishing culture

Burton/Bratton Store and Albion Inn
Little Drummer Boy — Someday this child may understand the significance of the historic Burton Store porch he was on during last week's celebration.

There are some great museums in Sarasota and Bradenton. The Ringling Museum and South Florida Museum immediately come to mind. There is a lesser known museum in Cortez that celebrates the history of the fishing town, the Florida Maritime Museum. Its celebration last week on the beginning of World Ocean’s Day featured the ribbon cutting for the Burton Store and the opening of the temporary interactive Meaning Behind Maritime exhibit.

The mission of this museum shares the town economic resource in that it is a fishing village. The importance is celebrated each year during the Commercial Fishing Festival in February that attracts thousands to this small coastal community in Manatee County. The museum's accomplishments in collecting, preserving and sharing maritime artifacts is deeply rooted in the mission.

Thursday marked the reopening of the historic Burton Store, the first commercial building within the village. Originally built in 1890 as a fishing dock storage shed, the store was enlarged and later expanded to become the Albion Inn. It was severely damaged by a hurricane in 1921. A portion was salvaged and moved in 2006 to its current location on museum grounds where the process of restoration began.

The Meaning Behind Maritime exhibit explores what maritime may mean to visitors. In one interactive display visitors use color string to tie together 24 different words to express the meaning of the word, maritime. So if the word boating is your choice, you can run your string between that and fishing. Continue to string as many words together until your maritime meaning is complete. Another part of this exhibit allows your toddler to be the captain of a boat. This exhibit ends July 19.

Cortez Coastal Community Celebration at the Florida Maritime Museum
Guest attendance was high during the Coastal Community Celebration at the Maritime Museum.

The next temporary exhibit will begin August 3 with a reception from 5:30 PM to 7 PM. It will feature the connection between Tarpon Springs and the Bahamas. Dr. Tina Bucuvalas will discuss the intertwined history of the Greek sponge industry of the two locations. Sponge gathering by the Greeks has been an important maritime business since the 19th century, explored in this exhibit that runs through February 2. Dr. Bucuvalas has been involved in writing five books on Greek culture.

There are permanent exhibits too in the one-time schoolhouse originally built in 1912. Have a docent guide you through the many artifacts of the museum or take a self-guided tour. Review the history of the village through photographs of what fishing meant to the citizens. Explore the use of their tools and commercial fishing gear.

Research Florida’s Gulf coast through the library of books in the museum. Museum members have the privilege of checking these manuscripts out of the library. The library houses many other records of the past. Start your journey on their website at FloridaMaritimeMuseum.org, where you can search the records and articles before your visit. The website displays many links to resources on coastal history.

Florida Maritime Museum 1912 Schoolhouse on the Cortez Nature Preserve
Florida Maritime Museum - On the grounds of the Cortez Nature Preserve, the renovated 1912 schoolhouse serves as a museum to preserve Florida fishing and maritime artifacts and knowledge.

Museum curators and experts give lectures on topics that reflect the Gulf coast heritage and its resources. Spaced about a month apart topics of dolphins, seagrass importance and SCUBA diving are scheduled. A traveling trunk is an interactive lecture for all ages, engaging those on an experience to explore an underwater archaeological find. There are also classes at its Folk School, starting with an interesting Painting With a Fish class tomorrow at 9:30 AM. Recipes are shared in their cooking classes. Other classes include such topics as Native Coastal Plants on June 22 at 10 AM. You can register for classes and pay tuition through FloridaMaritimeMuseum.org. If you have a topic to teach visit their website for an application.

The Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Courts sponsors the museum. Funding is also provided by donations and museum memberships. Volunteers aid the full-time staff of four in supporting the functions of the museum open daily from 9 AM to 4 PM. The museum closes on Sundays and Mondays, and Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends. The museum is also closed on Independence Day and at other times for maintenance. Kristin Sweeting is the museum supervisor, Alexis Schofield is the education & volunteer coordinator, Casey Wooster is the curator and Danielle Dankenbring is the visitor services coordinator. There are five members on the board of directors. Admission is free but donations are gladly accepted.

lionfish filet demonstration at Cortez Coastal Community Celebration
Invasive Species — A lionfish filet demonstration during the Coastal Community Celebration last week at the museum in Cortez.
Florida Maritime Museum displays
Large and small displays — There are many artifacts exhibited at the museum, some from local underwater archaeological discoveries.

Explore the museums in the area to better understand the culture and history of the area. Don’t forget this Manatee County gem that sits on four acres of land in the Cortez Nature Preserve. And when you are ready, please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

 

Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing

 

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Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is your Longboat Key, Florida Luxury Real Estate Specialist. Roger provides his real estate expertise to sellers, investors, developers, and buyers in the Sarasota area including Anna Maria, Bird Key, Bradenton Beach, Casey Key, Cortez, Grand Bay, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Marina Bay, Osprey and Siesta Key. Search for homes, luxury homes, condominiums, investment property, development property, and vacant land and lots on the Longboat Key, Florida and the surrounding area.