Man states swing bridge was closed to boat traffic, GIBA refutes accusation

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BY SUE ERWIN – The Boca Beacon received an anonymous call on Monday, August 22 from a man who complained that the Boca Grande Swing Bridge was closed to boat traffic on the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 19.

A request for more information was sent to Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority Executive Director Kathy Banson-Verrico.

Banson-Verrico refuted the accusations, stating the bridge was never closed to boat traffic (not to mention that there were no requests for any openings); therefore, there was no need to contact the Coast Guard.

“There was an electrical short in a limit switch on one of the end lifts. If there had been an opening request, we would have been able to comply by manually lowering the end lift with the problematic limit switch. The short was located and repaired on Friday. I already spoke to the Coast Guard and they are fully aware of the situation,” she said.

An inquiry was sent to the United States Coast Guard in Clearwater on Tuesday, Aug. 23, asking for details about the matter.

Media representative Ashley Johnson said the Coast Guard did not receive a report on Friday regarding any bridge closures.

“It really depends on how much traffic was impeded. If it was a temporary occurrence and only lasted for a few minutes, we don’t require a report to be sent to us. So, I cannot say with any certainty that it did or did not happen,” Johnson said.