FDOT proposing big-money fixes to Manatee's U.S. 41

skennedy@bradenton.comDecember 3, 2013 

Road signs mark the intersection of U.S. 41 and 53rd Avenue West. This area of U.S. 41 is a hotspot for pedestrian fatalities. PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald File

MANATEE -- A transportation work plan calling for $3.7 million in lighting and sidewalk improvements along dangerous U.S. 41 is slated for review Tuesday by the Manatee County Commission.

The five-year draft plan would finance fixes along the accident-prone roadway from 53rd Avenue West to 63rd Avenue West beginning next year, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

It also calls for traffic signal improvements at three busy intersections: Bayshore Parkway, 60th Avenue West and 53rd Avenue West, at a cost of $783,938, FDOT documents said.

More money would follow in 2015-16 -- about $879,430 -- if officials approve the plan.

"The project is scheduled to be let in June 2015, and we anticipate construction will start three to six months after the letting date," said Robin Stublen, FDOT communications specialist.

From 2007-11, officials reported 800 crashes, 673 injuries and eight pedestrian fatalities along the 1.25-mile stretch of U.S. 41.

In 2012, there were 192 crashes, with one fatality, said Stublen.

U.S. 41, also known as Tamiami Trail, is a six-lane, undivided urban roadway, with an 11-foot bi-directional center left turn lane. "I am thrilled that this project is finally coming to fruition," said Manatee Coun

ty Commissioner Robin DiSabatino, in whose district the construction would take place.

"My focus has always been connecting the sidewalks and installing streetlights along 41 from the south county line to Cortez (Road). The safety, mobility and visibility of pedestrians, bicyclists as well as motorists are extremely important for everyone traveling this corridor."

Business owners along the road are hoping construction does not hurt them too badly.

"I would say I'm ultimately for it because of the improvements and all," said Randy Clark, owner of Georgia Carpet World, 5425 14th St. W. "I just hope it doesn't adversely affect my business, the traffic egress in and out."

Clark said he looked at plans for the improvements, and does not think the project would block the entrances to his parking lot.

"But the construction, the actual time the construction will be occurring, will definitely impact my business," Clark added. "The sooner they get it done and move on, the better."

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

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