$75.4 million OK'd for transportation work plan

skennedy@bradenton.comDecember 17, 2013 

MANATEE -- A work plan calling for $75.4 million in capital spending and transit agency support for Manatee County next year was approved Monday by the regional transportation planning agency.

The total amount of the Florida Department of Transportation work plan for a five-year period was listed at $188.5 million.

The work plan includes only $660,000 next year to add lanes at University Parkway and Interstate 75, but Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Transportation Organization board members hoped serious fixes there and more money would be top priorities in the next budget cycle.

"We've talked a lot about our mutual concern, and I'd like to formalize that," Manatee County Commission Chairman Larry Bustle said, referring to the area's notorious traffic gridlock.

The board unanimously agreed to ask FDOT to analyze alternatives to solve severe congestion along the University Parkway corridor, where a new mall is slated to open next fall and Sarasota's Nathan Benderson Park will be hosting big-name sporting events.

Port Manatee came out a big winner with $38 million in capital improvements for 2014-15.

Projects listed in the work plan include road resurfacing and intersection improvements on U.S. 41, berth rehabilitation and repairs, money for a state-of-the-art cold storage warehouse and expansion of the port container and cargo yard.

"As one of Manatee Coun

ty's leading economic engines, the port's focus continues to be on development and job creation, and partnering with the state and private sector companies to create new opportunities," Port Manatee Executive Director Carlos Buqueras said.

Work plan projects all still require funding from the Florida Legislature when it meets next spring, officials said at the meeting at the Holiday Inn, 8009 15th St. E.

Sage Kamiya, Manatee deputy director of traffic management, said: "We did real well getting congestion-management projects funded in the work plan."

He cited the $155,000 project to add turn lanes at Moccasin Wallow Road at U.S. 41 as an example.

Also on the work plan was an $8.176 million project for 2014-15 to add lanes and reconstruct 1.212 miles from County Road 675 to Moccasin Wallow Road.

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

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