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What’s the answer to traffic woes between Bradenton and Palmetto? We may know soon

Officials will soon be one step closer to understanding what the best option might be to alleviate traffic issues between Palmetto and Bradenton.

The Florida Department of Transportation has tentatively scheduled a Bradenton-Palmetto connector study for the 2019 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The $3.3 million project is expected to “determine the preferred capacity alternative” between the two cities.

According to Dave Hutchinson, executive director of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, a separate planning development and environmental study for the Desoto Bridge replacement is slated for fiscal year 2022. Information from the capacity study will inform that study further down the line.

“This is a new PD&E study that will address the capacity need between Bradenton and Palmetto and whether those could be accommodated with a bridge. It’ll work in conjunction with the $1.6 million Desoto Bridge study in the future, so that is also scheduled,” Hutchinson said.

The connector study is a product of the Central Manatee Network Alternatives Analysis that has been in motion for some time. It will involve “a lot more” preliminary outreach to the community, according to Hutchinson.

Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who chairs the MPO, said she welcomed the study and explained that FDOT has begun to expand the scope of what may be possible in the area. Some of the recommendations so far have been a flyover bridge and a potential third bridge connecting Palmetto and Bradenton.

“All capacity alternative and locations will be analyzed,” Hutchinson explained. “No decision has been made and no preference has been selected but the regional MPO’s No. 1 priority is the Desoto Bridge and addressing traffic between Bradenton and Palmetto, so the advance of this study is a good thing.”

The study is expected to take two to three years and produce a recommendation of whether an elevated throughway or a more straightforward replacement of the Desoto Bridge would be preferred.

The MPO Board will receive an overview of FDOT’s tentative five-year work program during their Jan. 28 meeting. The plan is subject to approval from the Florida legislature during the Spring session.

Ryan Callihan is the Bradenton Herald’s County Reporter, covering local government and politics. On the weekends, he also covers breaking news. Ryan is a graduate of USF St. Petersburg.
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