Tara Master Association orders safety improvements along Tara Blvd.

jajones1@bradenton.comMay 29, 2014 

EAST MANATEE -- Scenic Tara Boulevard twists and turns through lush, mature landscaping as it runs through Tara from State Road 70 south to Linger Lodge Road.

That's the beauty of Tara Boulevard.

It also presents a danger to drivers on side roads, as they strain to look around landscaping before pulling onto Tara Boulevard. Oncoming drivers, some of them speeding, suddenly seem to whip around curves and landscaping.

"It's naive to think people are obeying the speed limit," Karen Clark, chairwoman of the Tara Master Association, said Wednesday.

Citing a number of accidents, the Tara Master Association Board voted unanimously to take immediate action to improve the line of sight for drivers along each intersection from S.R. 70 to Tara Preserve Lane.

"Our membership has voiced safety concerns," board member Nancy Breo

said. "If we keep putting it off, we are exposing the master association to liability." The board directed association manager Allen Baum to work with the West Bay landscape maintenance company to begin cutting back brush and, in some cases, replace it with ground cover, grass or mulch.

County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh attended the meeting to express her concerns about Tara Boulevard, including its deteriorating condition.

Baugh read an email from Chad Butzow of the county Public Works Department, saying a failing section of the boulevard requires frequent pothole repair.

Capital improvement project funding has been requested to install a proper underdrain system, base and paving in 2015, Butzow wrote.

"If the project is approved for funding, we intend on moving on the project quickly over the dry season to achieve the best results," Butzow said.

Association board member Sally Shuford welcomed the news.

"The road looks terrible. I am pleased that will be addressed in 2015," Shuford said.

Sage Kamiya, county deputy director of traffic management, told Baugh in an email the Manatee County Public Works Department this month refreshed pavement markings on Tara Boulevard from Tara Preserve Lane to Stone River.

In April, the county deployed speed awareness radar trailers on Tara Boulevard as part of a regularly scheduled rotation, Kamiya said.

Association board member Randy Kraft said more stop signs along the boulevard might help slow the traffic, and said it is unfortunate "we don't have the capacity to add roundabouts."

Baugh said Tara residents should be concerned with the possibility the long-proposed Tara Bridge could still be built.

With the Mall at University Town Center nearing completion alongside the rowing facility, which will be hosting international and nationwide competitions, Tara could expect more traffic should the bridge be built, she said.

"I have never supported the Tara Bridge for safety reasons," Baugh said.

If the bridge were built, it also could affect potential improvements to Tara Boulevard, including adding bike lanes and moving curbs back, she said.

As an alternative to building the Tara Bridge across the Braden River, Baugh said she has fought for improvements to Interstate 75.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.

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