BRADENTON -- It’s official: The Wares Creek dredging project is set to begin.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, announced Monday that it had awarded a $3.5 million contract for Phase I work at Wares Creek to TransWest Dredge.
“Hallelujah!” said Wares Creek neighborhood resident Mary Alta Dowd-Griffin after double-checking that it was true that the contract had been signed and work would actually begin. “It’s going to help just getting that stuff out as far as Ninth Avenue. That will be a tremendous relief right there.
“We’ve got this thing by the tail,” she added. “I am happy, and I hope they will keep on going with it now that we have the ball rolling.”
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County and city officials echoed Dowd-Griffin’s sentiments.
“It’s a red letter birthday,” said Vice Mayor Patrick Roff, who was celebrating his birthday with family at Daytona Beach.
Roff said he was particularly pleased that the contract went to TransWest Dredge because the company has a long history of doing this kind of urban dredge work and getting it done “on time, at cost, with no incidents.”
“I’m really happy they chose an expert in the field,” Roff said.
Carol Whitmore, county commission chairwoman, said it is a culmination of decades of work.
“It’s been a long time coming, 26 or 27 years,” she said. “We will continue to move forward on the project. This first phase will improve a drainage issue that’s been a problem.”
In all, the project will cost $45.5 million, for dredging, bridge replacements and other related work.
The planned Phase I work consists of dredging approximately 37,000 cubic yards of sand between the Ninth Avenue Bridge and Manatee Avenue Bridge. The dredged material will be dried at the old City Hall site at 15th Street West and Manatee Avenue West and trucked to the Lena Road Landfill for disposal.
“The collaboration with Manatee County to bring this long-awaited project to fruition has been outstanding,” said Emilio Gonzalez, project manager. “We have cleared hurdles and overcome many challenges but today we celebrate together as this important project gets under way.”
County Commissioner Donna Hayes recalled that this was one of the first projects she heard about soon after moving to Manatee County 30 years ago.
“I think it’s just wonderful to hear Wares Creek is finally making some progress,” Hayes said. “This will help residents of the area and help Manatee County.”
She said the dredging project will help raise property values around the creek by making the area a desirable waterfront community once again.
“Now that we are moving forward people can see this as a feasible community where they can reside,” she said. “There’s great interest in that area.”
The project focuses on the east branch of Cedar Hammock, which flows north through Manatee County and into the city of Bradenton, where it becomes Wares Creek. It is designed to reduce flood risk and related issues within the Cedar Hammock-Wares Creek basin.
Currently the area’s drainage channels are inadequate to carry runoff from a five-year-frequency rainfall. The new plan will provide a 10-year level of protection.
The contractor will prepare the site for construction in July, and dredging is anticipated to begin in September, Corps officials said. Larry Rosen, vice president of TransWest, said he hopes to begin the project in August.
The work will take place for 240 days. Phase II of the project is scheduled to be awarded in the spring of 2012.
“What we have is a successful collaboration of city, county, state and federal governments,” Roff said. “It’s not easy to put something together of this magnitude. I am really happy and proud of everyone who has put together these efforts.”