Manatee's $50M 44th Avenue extension is focus May 21

jdela@bradenton.comApril 24, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The Manatee County Commission will be briefed on the status of the $50 million 44th Avenue extension project at its May 21 meeting and hear from disgruntled residents who will be affected by it.

Loretta Sadkin, a leader of a citizens' group of residents living along the section from 30th Street East to 45th Street East where the extension would pass, asked the commission Tuesday to put her group on the next agenda to discuss the controversial project.

The extension, part of the county comprehensive plan for more than 20 years, would connect Lakewood Ranch on the east to Cortez Road on the west.

Residents of Highland Ridge, Oak Trace and Wall

ingford have complained increased traffic, noise and light pollution will degrade their quality of life. The proposed four-lane road would front their bedrooms.

Commissioner Vanassa Baugh said it's time the county reviewed its stance on the project.

"We have some traffic issues we really need to work on. We need to move forward. Either we're going to do it or we're not," she said Tuesday. "Everyone wants to know the timing of all of this."

So far, $53.8 million has been spent on the project without a building a bridge, related widening projects, or buying rights-of-way for another leg east of the river that would bisect an environmentally sensitive area.

A portion of the 44th Avenue extension already links Gullett Elementary School, Central Park and Lakewood Ranch Commerce Park, which is home to several high-tech businesses.

The extension entails three phases:

Phase one includes work from First Street East to 19th Street Court East. Construction on the first phase could start this summer from the intersection of U.S. 41 and 44th Avenue East to 19th Street Court East, Schulhofer said.

Phase two, which includes 19th Street Court East to 30th Street East, calls for a new, four-lane roadway with median from 19th Street Court East to 30th Street East. Construction could begin in the summer of 2014, he said.

Phase three from 30th Street East to 45th Street East will include signalized intersections at 19th Street Court East, U.S. 301 and 30th Street East, Schulhofer said. Phase three calls for a new, four-lane roadway between 30th Street East and 45th Street East, with construction to start during the summer of 2014, Schulhofer said.

The intersection at U.S. Hwy. 301 and 38th Avenue East will be modified to remove the traffic signal and reduce access, he said.

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