MANATEE -- An analysis aimed at taming traffic and accessibility issues across a 13-square-mile area of central Manatee will focus on "transformative change," a state transportation official said Monday.
"This challenge calls for really big thoughts," said Lawrence Massey of the Florida Department of Transportation.
Mobility improvements resulting from the Central Manatee Network Alternatives Analysis will have a profound effect on residents of the region, how they live and work and how they safely enjoy amenities the cities of
Palmetto and Bradenton have to offer, Massey said.
Officials said they hope to create a partnership to solve congestion and accessibility problems, said Whit Blanton, vice president/principal for Orlando's Renaissance Planning Group.
"This is a job-rich area any way you look at it," Blanton told the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The study area runs from 17th Street West in Palmetto on the north, to 17th Avenue West in Bradenton on the south and from Ellenton-Gillette Road on the east to 26th Street West on the west.
"This is a truly dynamic study area," Blanton said. He called it "an important gateway" to major employment, cultural and recreational destinations in Manatee County.
Short-term priorities include items such as intersecton/ interchange improvements and adding bike and pedestrian facilities. Long-term solutions might mean a new bridge across the Manatee River, premium transit service or circulator transit routes or even train travel versus other modes of transportation, officials said.
FDOT and the MPO are partnering to expand an earlier $3 million study of the main roads in central Manatee, including increasingly congested arteries connecting Bradenton and Palmetto.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.