|Artist's conception of what bridge at Fort Hamer would look like.|
By Nick Williams
This week, the U.S. Coast Guard is currently reviewing the Environmental Impact Statement submitted by the Manatee County government for approval to begin designing a two-lane bridge at Fort Hamer.
Once the statement is deemed satisfactory, the Coast Guard will issue a notice of availability for the public to review the plans, allowing the county to schedule public hearings.
The county submitted a draft to the Coast Guard during the third week of March. The Coast Guard's environmental contractor reviewed the statement last week, said county spokesperson Nick Azzara.
An EIS is a document required by the National Environmental Policy Act for certain actions "significantly affecting the quality of the human environment".
A decade ago, county officials anticipated building a six-lane bridge at Fort Hamer. The process to build the bridge was delayed when the county halted a federal impact study that would award it federal funding. The county then decided to build a two-lane bridge and fund the construction locally, but just as the county reached an agreed with URS Corporation Southern to design the bridge for $2.9 million, the Coast Guard required that the county expand the environmental study to include a Rye Road alternative, as well as the study on the Fort Hamer location.
The EIS submitted in March includes responses to the Coast Guard’s comments and concerns from previous construction plans.
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