New bridge threatens Cortez fishing village way of life

- A large, modern bridge is supposed to help ease traffic congestion going to Anna Maria Island. But some residents at the other end of the bridge, in the fishing village of Cortez, worry it will destroy their town's rustic charm.

It's one of the last working historical fishing villages in Florida. The way of life in Cortez hasn't changed much over the years. 

Jane Von Hahmann and Kim McVey want to keep it that way. 

"We're looking to maintain the culture and we are looking to stay connected," McVeysaid. 

"We want to maintain that feel that you're not in Miami, you're not in Fort Myers, even Sarasota," Von Hahmann offered. 

The Florida Department of Transportation unveiled plans for the massive 65-foot fixed-span bridge.  They said it's the best option in replacing the current bridge, which has stood for 60 years. 

Maintaining the current bridge is costing too much money.  Millions have been spent to keep it in working condition. 

The new bridge would last 75 years and improve traffic. 

Residents, like McVey said it'll cut down on routes to their businesses, homes and add to traffic problems. 

"You can only get so many people to that island. You are going to build a huge parking lot that's what you're building and taking out a historic village in the process," said McVey. 

FDOT promises to work with businesses to keep the customer flow going. 

"We are going to work with the business community to make sure we are maintaining good access for them that they have the ability to get their customers to and from their businesses and restaurants," pledged Zac Burch with the FDOT. 

Residents said they've been through worse. 

"No matter what they chose to do. Everything they do. If I can survive the net ban of 1995 I can survive just about anything," said Captain Kathe Fannon. 

In the eyes of those who've grown up here and work here the village will never truly be the same. 

"It just does not fit here and the people do not want it," added McVey.

The bridge is still in a design phase. No funding has been allocated for the project. 

FDOT says it could take upwards of five years before construction begins. 

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