HOLMES BEACH — Get used to those orange barricades, barrels and road-construction signs, because they’re going to be sticking around for a while.
The Florida Department of Transportation relayed that message to island residents and drivers at an open house Monday, where the agency outlined its construction plans for Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.
Those plans call for almost two dozen projects spread out over 18 months, possibly the heaviest construction schedule the islands have ever seen.
“With 22 projects in a very small geographical area, we thought it would be good to communicate what’s going on,” FDOT spokeswoman Cindy Clemmons said.
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Hence the open house, where FDOT officials and contractors invited residents to a church fellowship hall to look at maps, review design drawings and ask questions. About 20 residents filtered in and out during the two-hour open house, including some who opposed plans to build a sidewalk along a portion of North Bay Boulevard in Anna Maria.
Residents of the area question whether the $48,416 project, funded entirely by federal economic stimulus money, is justified, newly elected Anna Maria City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus said.
“I know a lot of the neighbors don’t want it there because it will cut into their driveways or eat away at their lawns,” he said. “They don’t think it’s a good use of the money.”
That project is among a dozen on the islands funded through the $787 billion stimulus package. Four of them, all sidewalk-installation projects in Holmes Beach, already have been completed.
Others include rehabilitating bridges on Crescent Avenue and North Bay Boulevard in Anna Maria; resurfacing parts of Pine Avenue and Gulf Drive in Anna Maria; installing sidewalks along Gulf Front Park; and upgrading the traffic signal at East Bay Drive and Gulf Drive.
Those projects are expected to begin within the next six months or so.
Without using stimulus money, FDOT recently resurfaced State Road 789 between Longboat Pass Bridge and the Sarasota County line and added right-turn lanes at various locations in northern Longboat Key.
The agency also has several other upcoming projects on S.R. 789, including:
n Resurfacing the road between the Longboat Pass Bridge and State Road 64, with construction expected to start in the second half of next year.
n Resurfacing the road from the Manatee County line south to Longboat Key Club in Sarasota County, also expected to begin late next year.
n Installing landscaping between the Longboat Pass and New Pass bridges beginning in February.
Details, including maps, have been posted on a special Web site that FDOT has created. The address is www.mysr789.com
Duane Marsteller, transportation/growth and development reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2630.