A few thousand motorists could soon have to find a new route to travel between the east and west side of Interstate 75 in Ellenton.
As part of work on the I-75/U.S. 301 interchange project, 19th Street East is being proposed to no longer continue under the interstate and instead end on either side.
“They are proposing removing that connection,” Sage Kamiya with Manatee County said Tuesday. “Our concern is that a lot of people use that so we would like to maintain that from an operational sense.”
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The proposed elimination of that portion of 19th Street East was presented to the Manatee County Commission during Tuesday’s work session in which it heard an update about a series of transportation projects underway in Manatee County, including the 44th Avenue East extension and the diverging diamond interchange.
Manatee County has relayed that concern to the Florida Department of Transportation, but in a December 2016 email, FDOT said it would not be able to honor the request.
“The request was to keep the existing connection under the new I-75 bridges in order to preserve the current traffic patterns and network connectivity,” the email reads. “The Department’s previous PD&E study and subsequent design plans call for 19th Street East to terminate on each side of the I-75 bridges. ... Having given due consideration to the county’s request and all factors involved, I regret to inform you that the department will not be able to honor such.”
Commissioner Carol Whitmore said that if the county shows documented incidents when the county has had to divert traffic onto the road, it would demonstrate the need by facts.
“To me, this is not a convenience,” she said. “It is a public safety issue.”