PARRISH -- On the one-year anniversary of groundbreaking for the Fort Hamer Bridge, the $32.69 million project is "pretty much on schedule," spokeswoman Trudy Gerena said Wednesday.
The two-lane bridge and improvements to Fort Hamer Road and Upper Manatee River Road should be completed by early 2017.
The bridge will eventually have 19 supporting piers, including anchors on each end. Construction started with pier 19 on the north side of the river next to Fort Hamer Park, and is counting down to pier one on the south side of the river near the Waterlefe community.
"The contractor is currently constructing pier 14 and driving test piles for pier 13. The northern approach to the bridge is 75 percent complete. Clearing at the southern approach to the bridge along Winding Stream Way is, for the most part, complete," Gerena reported in the most recent update this week.
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The bridge is approximately 22 percent complete and extends 536 feet.
"The contractor anticipates installing the next lift of asphalt along Fort Hamer Road during spring break, which begins Monday, March 21, Gerena reported.
One final lift of asphalt for Fort Hamer Road remains after that, but will not be placed until the end of the project. Sidewalk along Fort Hamer Road is 90 percent complete, and the roadway widening is 60 percent complete, she reported.
Drainage work along Upper Manatee River Road is 80 percent complete. Sidewalk construction begins in March.
Motorists may experience flagging operations along Upper Manatee River Road.
Property owners adjacent to Upper Manatee River Road are asked to remove or relocate landscaping and irrigation lines that may be within the county's right of way.
"We will gladly coordinate an on-site meeting with you if you need assistance locating the right of way," Gerena said.
A detour route is planned this spring for Upper Manatee River Road while crews construct the new traffic pattern for the southern approach of the bridge. Advance notice will be given prior to the start of the detour.
The Fort Hamer Boat ramp and a portion of the park is closed through June or July while Manatee County completes improvements to the park and boat/trailer parking for the ramp.
The closest alternative public ramps are Highland Shores in Ellenton and Braden River on State Road 64. The row house and floating dock at Fort Hamer remain accessible.
Start of construction of the Fort Hamer Bridge, which will allow drivers to enjoy a straight shot between Parrish and Lakewood Ranch, set off a flurry of development activity in the Parrish and North River areas. A report prepared by John Osborne, Manatee County planning official, said that 23,095 new homes have either been approved or are pending county approvals.