Fort Hamer boaters looking forward to scheduled Sept. 23 bridge opening

Editor’s note from Manatee County  on Sept. 6, 2017 regarding Hurricane Irma: Fort Hamer Bridge, scheduled to open to traffic on Sept. 23, will open temporarily to accommodate traffic related to the storm at 6 a.m. on Friday Sept. 8. Public Works Director Ron Schulhofer said the bridge is safe for vehicle traffic but it will close Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. to complete the project.

KEVIN BRADY PHOTO
Boaters from the Twin Dolphin Marina in Bradenton took in the sights and sounds of the Manatee River and Fort Hammer over the weekend.

It’s been in the works for 26 months, but the Fort Hamer Bridge is set to open Saturday, Sept. 23, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony tentatively scheduled for 8:30 a.m. A few eager boaters from the Twin Dolphin Marina in Bradenton couldn’t resist the draw of getting an early look at the $32,690,000 project last Sunday, Sept. 3, ditching their sailboats for a small armada of dinghies. The inspection by the curious boaters came a week after the Fort Hamer Bridge Run, which drew more than 2,600 walkers and runners to the 2,300-foot span, which links Parrish with Lakewood Ranch. A bridge was first proposed at the site in 1909 at a cost of $250,000, but public opposition saw the Manatee Commission veto the idea. It was later revived in 1989 and added to the county’s Comprehensive Plan, according to an award-winning paper by a high school student, Mark Simat, whose work won him the award for Best Historical Research from the Manatee County Historical Society in 2010. For more information on the bridge, visit www.Forthamerbridge.com.

MANATEE COUNTY PHOTO
Construction of the bridge, seen from above during last month’s Fort Hamer Bridge Run, also included $9.1 million in roadwork to the Upper Manatee River and Fort Hamer roads.

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