MANATEE -- State transportation planners are proposing two dedicated right-hand turn lanes along Ninth Avenue West in downtown Bradenton, which officials hope will help relieve traffic congestion on the Green Bridge linking Bradenton and Palmetto.
The turn lanes would be at the Third Avenue West and Manatee Avenue West intersections on the south side of the bridge, said Claude Tankersley, Bradenton director of public works and utilities.
Officials say the new lanes would relieve a major traffic headache since motorists driving the span over the Manatee River frequently are stuck atop the bridge as traffic builds on its south side.
Planners also propose widening the bicycle/pedestrian path on the west
side of the bridge, Tankersley said.
They could combine the two projects in hopes of saving costs and inconveniencing motorists less, said Bradenton City Councilman Patrick Roff, MPO board member.
The projects are listed in the transportation agency's work plan, and both are slated for construction in 2017-18, according to Roxann Lake of the Florida Department of Transportation.
FDOT officials are trying to accelerate the project by a year, Tankersley predicted.
FDOT engineer L.K. Nandam estimated costs of the right-hand lanes at $600,000, and widening the bridge bicycle/pedestrian path at $1.2 million.
"Currently we are looking into combining the above two projects... and the possibility of advancing all the work to a prior year to get it in sooner," said Lake.
Over the winter, the traffic clog atop the bridge during morning rush hour worsened, particularly after falling debris closed southbound lanes of Interstate 75 at University Parkway, sending drivers to alternate routes.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.