BRADENTON -- For those planning to leave chairs in front of or near the county administration building to snag a prime viewing spot for Saturday’s DeSoto Heritage Festival Grand Parade, the Bradenton Police Department has some bad news.
“They won’t be able to sit in them,” Deputy Chief J.J. Lewis said Tuesday.
The reason: Manatee Avenue West’s northern sidewalk is closed between Ninth and 15th streets for an ongoing road project.
That means parade watchers who normally vie for beads and other trinkets there will have to either move to the southern sidewalk or venture elsewhere along the parade route.
It could make for more crowded conditions, as more than 200,000 people are expected to line the 1.7-mile route for the 72nd annual parade.
“Safety is the No. 1 thing and there is a construction project going on,” said Maricelle Venegas, of Quest Corporation of America, hired by the Florida Department of Transportation to be the road project’s information manager. “We want everyone to be safe and enjoy the parade.”
Lewis said police officers and barricades will be in place Saturday to enforce the restrictions, not only for the sidewalk but surrounding streets as well.
In preparation for the parade and a 5-kilometer run that precedes it, police will close the following streets to traffic at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and reopen them after the parade’s conclusion later that night:
n Manatee Avenue between First Street and 43rd Street West.
n Sixth Avenue West between First Street and 15th Street West.
n The 3000 to 3300 blocks of Ninth Avenue West.
During the 5K run and parade, drivers can cross Manatee Avenue at Seventh Avenue West and use Third Avenue West to travel north on the Green Bridge, Lewis said.
The $5.7 million Manatee Avenue project includes reducing a portion of the thoroughfare from three to two lanes, adding on-street parking, upgrading underground utilities and traffic signals, and resurfacing the road.
Most of the work thus far has been between First and Ninth streets, and will move west of Ninth Street in the next week or two, Venegas said.
The project remains on track for completion in August or September, she said.
But that soon won’t be the only roadwork in downtown Bradenton. FDOT plans to begin resurfacing Manatee Avenue’s eastbound twin, Sixth Avenue West, between 10th and 15th streets in May.
A public information meeting on that project is set for 5 to 7 p.m. May 5 at the county administration building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W.
Duane Marsteller, Herald staff writer, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2630.