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Island mayors question Palma Sola Causeway resiliency

Island mayors are raising questions about resiliency on the Palma Sola Causeway, which was closed to traffic due to flooding associated with Hurricane Idalia.

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie asked Sept. 11 whether the Florida Department of Transportation or the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization plan to look at the viability of the causeway.

Chappie raised the issue during a meeting of the Island Transportation Planning Organization at Anna Maria City Hall.

The ITPO consists of the island mayors, who meet prior to a meeting of the MPO, a regional transportation group that was scheduled to convene Sept. 18 in Sarasota. The chair of the ITPO serves as a voting member of the MPO and, currently, Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy is chair.

Idalia passed the region Aug. 29-30, coinciding with a king tide that brought flooding on many local roads and shut down the causeway.

“It exposed a real problem,” Chappie said, noting the causeway is one of three approaches to the island.

He asked whether plans exist to elevate or fortify the causeway, a low stretch of Manatee Avenue/State Road 64 on Palma Sola Bay.

“We’re seeing considerably more washout,” said Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth. “It looks like it’s time to get it on a schedule.”

MPO executive director David Hutchinson said the causeway, as a bridge approach, is a high priority — “one of a number of high priorities.”