BRADENTON -- With long-term plans in place by the Florida Department of Transportation to alleviate traffic congestion across the Green Bridge from Palmetto, the city of Bradenton acted Tuesday morning to make things a little easier at the intersection of Third Avenue West and Ninth Street West with nothing but a little paint.
Crews painted arrows Tuesday to allow motorists to turn left from both lanes of eastbound Third Avenue onto northbound Ninth Street West.
The intersection has been singled out by FDOT as a key choke point for bridge traffic, and tentative plans are to add a right-hand turn lane from Ninth Street West onto Third Avenue West in the southbound lanes to allow more traffic to flow through the intersection.
FDOT plans to accomplish this without removing sidewalks by reducing the width of the median and existing lanes to 10 feet.
Those plans will likely be included in a 2017-18 project to reconstruct a walkway on the Green Bridge and resurface Ninth Street West, but city officials say Tuesday's actions are the first small piece of a larger puzzle.
Accomplishing anything affecting a state road typically takes extensive review from FDOT, but Tim McCann, Bradenton public information officer, said the repainting to add a left-hand turn in the southernmost lane of Third Avenue West was quickly approved as it required no major construction.
"There is obviously congestion at that intersection and this was something the city felt we could do in the
here and now to hopefully relieve some of that congestion for that area," said McCann.
Motorists eastbound toward Ninth Street West on Third Avenue West can turn left from the left-turn only lane, or turn left, go straight or turn right from the right-hand lane.
Since drivers are not allowed to turn right on red at the intersection, the decision will not affect traffic other than to allow a left turn into the eastern-most lane toward the bridge.
Some motorists using the typical left-hand turn lane had difficulties adjusting to the new arrows as some swung their vehicles into the far lane on Ninth Street West while making a left turn now accessible from the second turn lane.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.