Manatee County Commission wants to fix Seventh Street West in Palmetto

skennedy@bradenton.comJanuary 11, 2013 

MANATEE -- Manatee County commissioners want to fix a nasty intersection at Seventh Street West and U.S. 41/301 in Palmetto.

It's where cars going north on U.S. 301 pile up in a left turn lane at a blinking light.

"We've got to get off square one," complained County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino during a meeting earlier this week.

The board asked Commissioner Michael Gallen and County Administrator Ed Hunzeker to meet with officials from the city of Palmetto and come up with a solution.

State transportation officials would OK a regular traffic light at the intersection once a contract is signed to extend Seventh Street north of the Bradenton Area Convention Center, Hunzeker said. Currently, the street stops abruptly at U.S. 41/301.

He estimated the cost of extending the road at $700,000 or $800,000, assuming the

landowners donated the right-of-way for it.

Over the years, various businesspeople have suggested they would be much more interested in building a hotel for the convention center if the street were extended, Hunzeker said.

"I'm happy that there's dialogue within the government, and we at the convention center look forward to positive things happening around the building," said Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which operates the convention center at U.S. 301-41 and Haben Boulevard.

A Seventh Street traffic light would also help Palmetto businesses that have struggled over the years because the area is so difficult to navigate, said Commission Chairman Larry Bustle.

Commissioner Carol Whitmore said discussion about improving the area has been going on for 10 years, adding that "all options are on the table" now.

"Let's just get off the mark," she said.

The commissioners' hope for a quick fix was not met with bouquets by Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant.

Although she favored a traffic light at the intersection of Seventh Street and U.S. 301/41, and would welcome an extension of the road if the county paid for it, she said it was a "Band-Aid" solution where a comprehensive one is necessary.

However, county officials have nixed more comprehensive solutions that would address the whole stretch of road from the DeSoto Bridge north to the overpass at U.S. 41/301, she said.

"Let's fix the whole problem, let's not Band-Aid it," she said. "Let's get a direction for the whole problem."

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter

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