These two bridges on the ICW just south of Tampa Bay (Cortez@ 22 ft and Anna Marie@ 24 ft) are approximately 1.5 miles apart. They both open on the hour and half hour which, if a boat needs to open them both, requires a wait of at least 20 to 25 minutes between the bridges. How can this get changed to schedule one of them (it doesn’t matter which) to open at 15 minutes and 45 minutes after the hour? Most bridges on the east coast ICW adhere to such logical timing.
Good luck with that. I think that it is ultimately the DOT that sets the rules, but I believe that the local municipalities have some say in the matter also.
BTW, both bridges are open on the hour, 20 min. and 40 min. after the hour for much of the year. They are restricted to hour and half hour from Jan 15 – May 15.
A few comments: First, bridge opening schedules are created for the convenience of the vehicle traffic crossing the bridge, not the vessel traffic passing under it, so your plea will fall on deaf ears. Second, after 10 trips up/down the Atlantic ICW, I have not found bridge schedules on that side to be anymore helpful to the cruising boats than the two you mention. Finally, if your goal in owning a boat is to correct the perceived illogical behavior of shoreside bureaucrats, you are destined to be frustrated. Try to think about the millions of landlubbers who look down from their cars at you just sitting still in the water between two bridges and say to themselves “Man, if only I had 20 minutes in the day to sit on a boat and do nothing…”
The reason the restrictions are more onerous from January to May is because that is when a bazillion snowbirds and tourists clog the roads of Manatee County.Those two bridges are the only highways to the beaches. Not rocket science. I used to live there.
As with any bridge over coastal navigable waters, drawbridge regulations are set by the USCG (not local authorities). Drawbridge regulations are published in 33CFR117 (and copied in Chapter 2 of the US Coast Pilot volume that covers the area in question).
Unless authorized otherwise by the USCG, US drawbridges over federal waters are required to open on signal. If the CG has approved any restrictions at all from the open on signal rule (e.g., open on the hour), a special regulation will be published in 33cfr117 (and the Coast Pilot). In the case of the Cortex Bridge and the Anna Marie bridge, there are indeed special regulations, and these USCG regulations are published in 33CRF117.287 (see: http://tinyurl.com/3p634ts), and published in Volume 5 of the US Coast Pilot (see http://tinyurl.com/3slx6nh)
Changing a federal regulation is a lengthy, but not impossible process. If just one person (without political pull) is asking for the change however, you can just guess how much effort you will be making doing something smelly into the wind. However, if a concerted push is made by the local boating community, with multiple request letters going in, supported by local yacht clubs and marinas, a very strong chance exists that regulations can indeed be altered – but, you have to build and prosecute your case.
If you want to take on the work to organize and run the somewhat long and time consuming effort to do that, you need to contact the CG District 7 bridge office in Miami. You can find the contact information at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg551/District_Page.asp
Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Bridge Directory Listing For The Cortez Bridge
Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Western Florida Bridge Directory Listing For The Anna Maria Island Bridge