This nearly mile-long bridge replacement project will replace the existing 2-lane, low-level bascule structure bridge with a 4-lane, high-level fixed span that has 65 feet of vertical clearance over the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.  The project design results in impacts to environmentally sensitive seagrass and coral habitat that lies just under the water’s surface.

Why does this project matter?

The 70-year-old bridge has been identified by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) as in need of replacement due to safety concerns to allow continued safe access to the barrier island.

What is ESA doing to help?

ESA has been providing environmental permitting support services to the Lochner design team, specifically regarding the submerged aquatic resources within the project area. ESA biologists completed updated seagrass mapping and characterization studies and are in the process of mapping the hardbottom community and corals that occur in Anna Maria Sound and in the vicinity of the bridge. Coordination with National Marine Fisheries Service was completed to obtain guidance on the level of mapping required for corals. This project is in the permitting stage, and both seagrass and coral impacts will be documented and provided to the design team for incorporation into permit applications. If needed, ESA will assist with development of wetland mitigation options to offset unavoidable impacts to submerged aquatic resources.

Corals and aquatic species the team found in the vicinity of the existing bridge include, clockwise from left, blushing star coral (Stephanocoenia intersepta), green feather alga (Caulerpa sertulariodes), star coral (Solenastrea sp.), blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) in shoal grass (Halodule wrightii).

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