ANNA MARIA ISLAND
Stimulus funding totaling more than $2 million will pay for multiple new transportation projects on Anna Maria Island in the coming months, including new sidewalks, resurfaced roads and new landscaping.
Some of the more high-profile projects include funding for part of the Gulf Drive Improvement plan in Bradenton Beach and resurfacing all of Pine Avenue in the city of Anna Maria.
There will also be 3.8 new miles of sidewalks along the island and a $500,000 beautification project along Gulf of Mexico Drive in Longboat Key.
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“These are projects that we have not in the past been able to afford,” said Diane Percycoe, Anna Maria’s finance director.
Major projects in Anna Maria include repairing the bridge at North Bay Boulevard and Crescent Avenue, and resurfacing Pine Avenue and a portion of Gulf Drive.
“Those are two major streets,” she said. “They get a lot of traffic during season. It’s just non-ending.”
The Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization forwarded the projects to the Florida Department of Transportation. MPO placed a higher priority on projects in smaller cities so stimulus funds weren’t taken up with one large project.
“The smaller cities don’t have the budgets that the counties have,” said MPO planning manager Bob Herrington. “This offers them a chance to fund what they consider major projects.”
FDOT spokeswoman Cindy Clemmons-Adente said funding for all of the projects has been approved, and the contractor bidding process should begin within the next few months.
Pedestrians will enjoy miles of new sidewalks along the island, most of which are in Holmes Beach and Anna Maria.
Bradenton Beach will also get new sidewalks and landscaping as part of the Gulf Drive Improvement plan. Sidewalks will line the west side of the street so people can walk along the beach.
“We have several gaps in our sidewalks,” said Lisa Marie Phillips, project director for Bradenton Beach. “This is a step toward remitting those gaps.”
Landscaping will be limited to plants that are indigenous to the island, such as blanket flower, marsh hay and sabal palm.
Construction contracts will be signed in December, and the project should be finished by the end of January, before peak tourist season.
Original project plans called for items such as new lighting and dune walkovers. Those elements did not qualify as transportation improvements and were excluded.
The project was first budgeted for $830,000, but will probably cost about half that, Phillips said.
Unused funds will be routed to other projects within Manatee and Sarasota counties.