CORTEZ VILLAGE- The current Cortez Drawbridge will be replaced with a 65-foot- fixed span bridge.The Florida Department of Transportation made their final decision after a Project Development and Environment Study. Construction is still several years out.

 “Construction starting sometime after 2026,” Rick said.

Florida Department of Transportation Communications Specialist Brian Rick says the change will do more than just help traffic flow.

“For emergency responders,” Rick said. “First responders, fire, EMS, that seamless transition from the Island to the Main Land is paramount of importance, during an emergency obviously seconds count.”

But many are still worried the new bridge could change the character of Cortez Village.

“The businesses on the North  side of the road will be lost by eminent domain,” Whitmore said. “And to have a separate road to go under the bridge into Cortez Village is not acceptable to me for a 100 year old working fishing village. One of the only in the state I think.”

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore says FDOT adding a roundabout to the Island side of the bridge doesn’t change her opinion.

‘Literally the city and the county we’ve been talking about this for years,” Whitmore said. “But there was never any appetite, all of a sudden we have a carrot over a stick.”

Whitmore thinks there is still time for FDOT to change their decision.

“I’m still going to work hard on this,” Whitmore said. ‘Even though they released it there’s still time, so I’m dealing with the state personally as an individual commissioner.”

Brian Rick says the plan is moving forward and they will be looking for community input on the design of the bridge.

“Possibly parks and other facilities below the bridge that could otherwise not be,” Rick said. “So, you don’t have the typical blighted urban look that the bridge coming down often creates.

Funding for the project has not yet been secured.