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Environmental group pushes for Cortez Bridge details

A Cortez Bridge study by the Florida Department of Transportation was a sham, according to ManaSota-88, a nonprofit devoted to public health and environmental issues.

“This is wrong on every level,” said Holmes Beach resident Barbara Hines, ManaSota-88 vice chair and a member of Holmes Beach Planning Commission.

“It appears they selected the most environmentally damaging and least popular alternative,” said ManaSota-88 chairman Glenn Compton.

The DOT announced results April 23 of its Cortez Bridge project development and environmental study, which formalized its preference for a 65-foot-clearance, fixed-span linking Cortez to Bradenton Beach.

“The repair alternative has the least impact on threatened and endangered species and environmental resources,” Hines said. “Why is this not the preferred DOT alternative? We can’t keep destroying the environment. This is just wrong.”

Zachary Burch, DOT spokesman, did not provide a copy of the study, saying it would be released in July. The news release announcing the study results was two pages long.

“We have looked at this issue since the beginning,” said Compton. “Not having that study to review, we have a lot of questions.”

ManaSota-88 joins the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, Cortez Village Historical Society and city officials in Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach in questioning the DOT study and its choice of the fixed-span replacement bridge.

The Cortez Village Historical Society issued a statement May 17 noting nearly 90 buildings in the village are certified historic structures by the National Register of Historic Places.