News Section: Local news
Traffic Strangles Cortez Life for Locals
Residents Say, Enough is Enough
CORTEZ – This Saturday, local Cortezians hit the streets again to protest what they call a highjacking of their roads by Manatee County Commissioners. Organizers say they are "mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore."
If you are looking to go to the beach, but don't live on the island, it appears you will need some time on your side; if it's on the weekend, you may need to bring a board game.
My last trip to Cortez, three weeks ago -- when I went to look into rumors, that on the following weekend residents were going to the streets to protest -- took me just under 90 minutes to get from Manatee Ave and 51st Street to the Cortez Bridge.
Residents say it can take two hours for those coming from east Bradenton to get to the beaches, a trip that used to take 20 minutes. "And now there are proposed developments that will add up to 20,000 more cars daily to what is currently a traffic jam -- just what you see here," said organizer Joe Kane.
Kane and others feel like county officials are force feeding Cortez a culture that will destroy the one they have.
"We are overwhelmed with traffic and it is rewriting our history to one that will be known for its traffic, and not the hundred year-old fishing village so many generations before us worked to preserve," said organizer Linda Motto.
There are only two bridges that connect the beaches with the inland; Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road, and both can be backed up for hours with cars hardly moving at all.
Cortez residents can only assume there will be more once the two proposed projects -- which would add more 10,000 new homes to their neighborhood -- are completed. They also see the 30,000 homes slated to be built throughout the county behind them, any number of which will be adding to beach-bound traffic.
"They are killing us," said one man with a sign who didn't wanted to be identified, adding, "We are being turned into a parking lot."
On Saturday, Cortezians are inviting commissioners to see the damage done. Protesters say that they are not going away, and if they have to, they will take their growing number of citizens on the road to other parts of the county in order to be heard.
As I was leaving, a woman screamed out to the standing-still cars, "Those of you with convertibles shouldn't have any problem getting a suntan today."
They are calling it a "Street Party" from the fire station to the bridge on Cortez Road. It starts at noon and is expected to last until 2 p.m. Saturday. Bring a book!
If it rains Saturday, villagers will be there Sunday.
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