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Lane closures planned for Manatee Avenue construction

BRADENTON — Just when drivers got used to a two-lane Manatee Avenue through downtown, upcoming roadwork will require the main drag to shrink to a single lane.

The good news, though, is the lane reduction, which begins Monday and is scheduled to last for a week, will occur only at night.

Manatee Avenue will return to two lanes through downtown for the morning and evening rush hours.

“That one lane closure is just at night, and it will be intermittent. It will affect different quadrants at different times,” said Maricelle Venegas of Quest Corporation of America, the project’s information manager.

Florida Department of Transportation crews will excavate stretches of the avenue between U.S. 301 and 15th Street West for underground utility installation from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night through Jan. 7.

Also, work on the shoulder along the south side of Manatee Avenue east of 10th Street East will continue and should be complete by Jan. 7, Venegas said.

Work began Nov. 14 on the FDOT’s $5.7 million project on Manatee Avenue between 12th Street East and 15th Street West. The road will be resurfaced, with the six-block section in downtown reduced from three lanes to two. The project is slated to be completed in the fall.

Local officials have weekly meetings with FDOT and the main contractor, Gibbs & Register of Orlando, to assess progress.

“From our perspective, it’s coming along well,” Bradenton Public Works Director Claude Tankersley said Wednesday. “We’re really just a bystander, watching like everybody else. We’re finding the contractor to be responsible and easy to deal with.”

Tankersley said the city received several complaints about traffic congestion in the first weeks of the project. He said the construction, along with a software change on traffic signals citywide, conspired to cause the delays.

“It’s improved a lot,” he said. “People got used to it. Whenever anybody is driving in an unfamiliar area, they tend to slow down.”

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