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Anna Maria's Bridge Street to see storm water upgrade

Anna Maria Island has a history of flooding that officials hope will soon come to an end.

In an effort to make that happen, the island communities are revamping their storm water systems.

The cities of Anna Maria and Holmes Beach have already had their upgrades, and now it is Bradenton Beach’s turn. Historic Bridge Street is the last stop on the storm water project. Businesses hope it won't scare away tourists. Amanda Escobio has owned Sea Renity on Bradenton Beach for four years and knows soon her shop on Bridge Street will be filled with snow birds and tourists.

However, something’s new this season. Construction crews are tearing up the historical street. It's part of an island-wide storm water project that will replace drainage systems that are over 50 years old with new eco-friendly ones. “I’m excited! I’m excited!" Escobio said. "It makes the island safer for everybody for years to come.”

The projects engineer says new drainage is vital for the area, as the current storm water systems dump pollutants into the bay.

However, this is not a quick fix. Crews will be working into December, and possibly longer.

Construction crews will close off portions of Bridge Street until the project is complete. Local shop owners hope that the construction will not affect their business during what is the start of their busy season. Laetitia Truel Rose owns the Island Creperie on Bridge Street and says the project is “great for everyone on the island.” She just wishes it was not starting now. “It’s a shame it should be in November when the people are starting to come in, the season is starting to pick up," she said. "It would be better if it was in summer time.”

Engineers and Anna Maria Island officials will explore more options for fixing up Bridge Street once the storm water project is complete. These include resurfacing the historic street, giving it either a brick or cobblestone finish. If this goes through, one lane of Bridge Street could be closed for a few days at a time.