BRADENTON - Orange construction fence surrounds heavy machinery in a staging area just south of the 17th Avenue West bridge in the Historic Wares Creek neighborhood.
The existing bridge sits in the shadow of a large trackhoe that will begin tearing it out Friday as workers began to replace the last of four bridges in the area s part of the ongoing $52.7 million Wares Creek flood control project.
Residents using 17th Avenue West will have to find an alternate route and continue to avoid the bridge crossing until replacement is complete sometime in November.
“Basically the existing bridge is going to be demolished and a new bridge similar to the recently completed bridges we’ve already done will be put in its place,” said Jim McClellan, manager of the engineering section for the city of Bradenton.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been widening and dredging Wares Creek as the focal point of the flood control project, which the Corps categorized several years ago as “A significant threat to human life,” if not complete due to the flood risk associated with the residential neighborhoods in the area.
In order to ensure the creek handles water flow in a safer capacity, the old bridges over the creek had to be replaced in order to not become a choking point.
“The new bridge, like the others, will have a wider opening to help with flood relief,” said McClellan. “It’s the last of four bridges the city is completing as part of an overall improvement project.”
The other bridges were at Ninth, 12th and 14th avenues west.
McClellan said dredging of Wares Creek was completed last year and the Corps has been in the creek widening phase.