A third bridge over the Manatee River between Bradenton and Palmetto. A barrier island study. Downtown Bradenton traffic improvements.
Those are some of the projects that the Florida Department of Transportation is contemplating, along with work already underway or planned for Interstate 75 intersections through Manatee County.
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FDOT invites the public to a hearing from 10 a.m.-noon on Thursday at Detwiler’s Farm Market, 1800 U.S. 301, Palmetto, to learn more about the tentative five-year work program, which includes all of those high-profile projects.
One of the projects that has generated the most interest is the Bradenton-Palmetto Connector study, which focuses on traffic capacity and the need for a third bridge — in addition to the DeSoto Bridge and the Green Bridge — over the Manatee River.
Among candidate locations for a third bridge would be Ninth Street East, 15th Street East and 27th Street East.
FDOT is considering replacing the DeSoto Bridge with an elevated bridge — also called a flyover — that has been strongly opposed by neighbors. Among them, residents of Riviera Dunes.
“At Riviera Dunes, we are over 30 percent of the tax base for the city of Palmetto. We are not going to sit back and let community leaders squander those tax dollars. We will create voting blocs to replace or unseat leaders who don’t put the community’s interest first” Shay Hawkinberry, president of the Board of Directors of Riviera Dunes Master Homeowner’s Association, previously said of the flyover proposal.
The DeSoto Bridge replacement project development and environment study remains funded for fiscal 2022-2023.
FDOT’s tentative work program lists transportation system improvements scheduled for fiscal years beginning July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2024.
“This is FDOT’s process. They are trying to get to where the people are. We are excited about the work program,” said David Hutchinson, executive director of the Sarasota Manatee Planning Organization.
“This will provide members of the public input opportunities. There is plenty of traffic and you could use another bridge, but no one agrees where,” Hutchinson said.
FDOT will have staff, materials and a video available to provide information on proposed improvements.
Other Manatee County highlights of the tentative work plans:
- Central Manatee Network Alternatives Analysis Project: Traffic operations improvements in downtown Bradenton are funded for $1 million in fiscal 2019-2020. The improvements are a result of recommendations made from the Central Manatee Network Alternatives Analysis.
- Palmetto Trail Network Plan is funded for $1.1 million in fiscal 2019-2020. FDOT has programmed the project development and environment study in the first year of the work program to evaluate and develop a trails network through Palmetto. A BUILD grant was also submitted for consideration in order to supplement this initial funding.
- Barrier Island Study for Cortez Road from east of 123rd Street West to 119th Street West is funded for $130,000 in fiscal 2019-2020 and $442,256 in fiscal 2020-2021. FDOT has programmed design and construction of the intersection improvement.
Information is available at http://swflroads.com/WorkProgram/2018/WP_Home.html.
FDOT will accept comments from all interested parties if received by Dec. 28. Mail comments to L. K. Nandam, P.E., district secretary, FDOT, 10041 Daniels Parkway, Fort Myers, FL 33913, attention Wayne Gaither, Southwest Area office director, or email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.