MANATEE -- Port Manatee came out a big winner Tuesday as the Manatee County Commission approved a draft five-year work plan calling for $38 million in capital improvements for 2014-15.
Projects include road resurfacing and intersection improvements on U.S. 41, berth rehabilitation and repairs, money for a state-of-the-art cold storage warehouse and expansion of the port container and cargo yard, according to a tentative Florida Department of Transportation work plan.
The work plan still must win approval of the regional transportation planning agency, the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, and also would require funding from the Florida Legislature next spring.
"We continue to appreciate the support of Gov. (Rick) Scott and the Florida Department of Transportation in addressing our port's infrastructure needs," said Dave Sanford, port deputy executive director. "The governor and FDOT have just bent over backwards to be supportive."
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For 2014-15, FDOT lists $16,860,635 for a new cold storage warehouse with another $952,049 budgeted for 2015-2016.
The warehouse project is a public-private partnership, and its start date is still being worked out, according to George Isiminger, senior port director of planning, engineering and environmental affairs.
Also listed in the work plan is $3,715,804 for a container yard and cargo transfer yard in 2014-15, with another $95,640 in 2015-16.
The port recently completed the first 10 acres of the container yard, where giant shipping containers are stored, and has already designed and permitted space for expan
sion, said Isiminger.
The FDOT lists $1,733,333 for rehabilitation and reconstruction for older berths.
Two related road repair projects would accommodate heavy commercial traffic generated by the port.
One listed at $6,154,018 calls for resurfacing U.S. 41 from Interstate 275 to the Hillsborough County line, and another calls for $9,572,708 worth of intersection improvements at Piney Point Road and Dock Street in the same vicinity.
Isiminger said engineers plan to pave the two intersections with concrete to strengthen them for heavier truck loads.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.