EAST MANATEE -- People on the road this Fourth of July holiday weekend can celebrate the end of construction along State Road 70, even though a problem delayed the project a few weeks, state officials said.
Another major project, widening State Road 64, is expected to complete construction this fall.
Last month, motorists may have noticed maintenance and improvements on State Road 70 from east of Lorraine Road to County Road 675 repeatedly held up traffic as the same section of road was repaved more than once.
"For about five weeks or so I'd be going down SR 70, heading west or east, and I'd be in a line of cars. One time I clocked it and I had to wait 11 minutes, which I thought was absolutely extraordinary," said Glenn Carter, a Panther Ridge resident who moved here from Chicago. "I just happened to look down at my clock because I was supposed to be at a meeting at Lorraine and 70. Once you get there, you're in a kind of no-man's land."
Commuter frustration was well-founded, officials said. Robin Stublen, FDOT communication specialist, said the $2.9 million improvement project begun in November was not up to anybody's "ride-ability" standards when first inspected.
"There were 18 patches within about a 2.7-mile stretch, so we had almost a washboard effect," Stublen said.
Contractor Ajax Paving Industries of Florida LLC took responsibility to correct the problem, she said.
"On their own, they went in and re-milled that section
of road and then repaved it at no cost to taxpayers. They footed the entire bill," Stublen said.
Only the eastbound side of SR 70 was redone.
"On the westbound side we only had two or three sections with patches. We didn't have a problem. It is just visual," Stublen said. "The total amount of the project was 5.8 miles and the area of concern was 2.7 miles."
The remaining $12.7 million project on a state road in Manatee County this year is widening Manatee Avenue (SR 64) from four to six lanes, removing old asphalt, resurfacing, adding bike lanes, improving drainage and sidewalk construction from west of Carlton Arms Boulevard to Interstate 75.
Contractor Better Roads Inc. began work in April 2012 and should be completed this fall.
Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7027, or tweet @DeeGrahamBH.