BRADENTON -- Florida transportation officials Monday added more than $878,000 for new construction or repair of sidewalks near elementary schools.
The project, called "City of Bradenton Safe Sidewalks to Schools," calls for new sidewalks or repairs to deteriorated ones in the vicinity of four schools:
Manatee Elementary, 1609 Sixth Ave. E.;
Rogers Garden Elementary, 515 13th Ave. W.;
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Ballard Elementary, 912 18th St. W., and
Wakeland Elementary, 1812 27th St. E.
"It's a program to encourage safe pedestrian facilities for students to walk to school," said Claude Tankersley, director of public works and utilities for the city of Bradenton.
Although there may be sidewalks in the immediate area, some schools lack a proper community network to serve students, said Tankersley.
"We're not just focusing on the sidewalk. We're focusing on all sidewalk networks in the community the school will serve," he said. "We want to encourage people to walk, and it's also a recognition people are already walking. We want to make sure people already walking have safe sidewalks to walk on."
The project calls for construction of a less than 2.5 miles of new or repaired sidewalk, Tankersley said.
"The district obviously is thankful for the state leaders who have provided this funding," said Steve Valley, a spokesman for the Manatee County School District. "We look forward to working with the city of Bradenton to improve the walkways surrounding our schools. Hopefully we can get done in the coming year."
Valley referred to the Florida Department of Transportation recommendation to shift federal money so construction could start earlier.
It will now begin in 2015, said Colleen McGue, MPO transportation planner.
"We've been waiting for a study on cost," which has finally been completed, she said. "And we've got the funds."
The plan was OK'd Monday by the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization Board.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.