Improvements on Stickney Point Road drawbridge expected to get underway this month

Minimal lane closures planned, FDOT says

This is a close-up of the Stickney Point Road drawbridge, which has four lanes of traffic. Image from Google Maps

This month, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will begin improvements on the superstructure and substructure of the Stickney Point Road drawbridge, the department has announced.

The $2.4-million initiative, which FDOT reported would start “in mid-June,” has been planned to “extend the bridge’s service life and operational reliability, while mitigating the effects of the harsh coastal environment, severe weather, and wear from the volume of vehicle and marine traffic,” an FDOT news release points out.

“The project duration is expected to be 200 days,” the release adds.

An FDOT webpage about the undertaking says the completion of the work is expected in the latter part of this year.

To minimize the impact of the undertaking, the FDOT release explains, much of the work will be performed beneath the bridge.

Nonetheless, the webpage says, “During the 200-day project, lane closures will be necessary but limited.” Further, it notes, FDOT crews will need to test electrical systems, which will necessitate “a series of bridge openings.”

FDOT’s county road projects update for the period of June 9 through June 15 says, “When temporary lane closures are needed or work is required on alternating bridge spans, advance notice will be provided so motorists can use the alternate north bridge route,” which is Siesta Drive, or add travel time.

Residents, business owners, marina operators and employees, and mariners “should expect construction equipment, barges and noise,” the release points out. “Marine traffic should be mostly unaffected, although barges will be in the water so crews can work underneath the bridge,” the release adds.

“Boat traffic will be maintained,” the release notes, with bridge openings on a by-request-only basis, instead of every 30 minutes. If the size of a vessel will make it necessary for both bridge panels to be raised so the vessel can navigate the waterway, the release says, a reservation with FDOT will be required.

In early October 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that the Stickney Point Road drawbridge would open only on the hour and the half-hour between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily; otherwise, it would open upon a boat’s signal. Prior to the implementation of that schedule, the bridge opened three times an hour.

Eastbound traffic waits at the Stickney Point Road drawbridge in April 2018. File photo

“The request was made to the Coast Guard to change the operation of four drawbridges due to an increase in vehicle traffic throughout these areas at all times of the year,” the notice pointed out. The Siesta Drive, Cortez and Anna Maria Island drawbridges were the others affected.

In a search of its files, the most recent project that The Sarasota News Leadercould find involving the Stickney Point Road drawbridge prior to this one began in mid-April 2015. At that time, FDOT reported that the bridge was “approaching the end of its original service life,” noting that the structure was completed in 1968.

That initiative was planned to extend the service life of the bridge another 10 years, FDOT said. The total cost of the project was put at $5.3 million, with completion expected in early 2016.

However, as the News Leader subsequently reported, “Delays for various and sundry reasons led to that project lasting quite a bit longer …”

FDOT finally signed off on the completion of that initiative in May 2016.

“The work entailed concrete and seawall repairs, improvements to the tender/control house, painting, and repairs to the bridge’s mechanical and electrical components,” the News Leader added at the time.

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