Sidewalk woes delaying opening of Bradenton’s new parking garage

Concrete for the new sidewalks planned for downtown Bradenton has proved to be a bigger hassle than planned.

Sidewalk issues are holding up not only the opening of the City Centre parking garage due to safety concerns, but the city’s entire streetscape project. The project, expected to cost around $6 million, includes irrigation work that goes under the concrete, as well as lighting and landscaping.

Carl Callahan, city administrator, said the votes have already been taken and the funds budgeted, the city council just needed to tell the contractors how to move forward with a solution.

The mixture of concrete and an aggregate top that was slated to make up nearly half the sidewalk simply isn’t working out. So last week, the city pulled the plug on what’s become the problematic portion and had contractors come back to city council members Wednesday with some ideas on how to continue.

Ultimately, the city will likely end up paying more to get a colored concrete product to replace the portions that aren’t pouring according to plan.

The sidewalk was supposed to be made up of at least two different colored pieces: a half a light gray color and half with a brown pebbled aggregate. Some parts of the sidewalk will have a blue strip of concrete separating the two colors, in other places the concretes will be separated by a more decorative saw-cut.

But the brown aggregate that goes on top of the concrete has not stayed on, and left an inconsistent appearance with some spots lighter in color than others. Problematic areas, which will be torn out, can be seen in front of City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce.

The brown mix apparently worked in mock-ups, and developers said they are perplexed as to why the aggregate doesn’t seem to be sticking here.

The light gray portions of sidewalk that have been poured, which uses a different aggregate top, turned out fine.

Design consultant company Kimley-Horn and Jon F. Swift Construction presented four alternative options to the brown mix to councilmen Wednesday.

Presented options included using the light gray mix throughout the entire sidewalk and cutting patters into it, using a tinted sealer on the concrete, or choosing another textured finish for the concrete.

To maintain the two different colors, the city is looking to go with a different concrete product that will be colored. This way, they will be able to keep with the objective of the project originally set forth, Councilman Harold Byrd Jr. said Wednesday.

Councilman Gene Brown said they wanted the different colors in order to liven up the streetscape.

“I do have concerns about possibly spending more money for the look we wanted,” Brown said after the meeting.

Callahan met with the companies Wednesday afternoon to negotiate the additional cost of the different concrete product, Mayor Wayne Poston said.

Byrd said he feels good that the city won’t have to bear the brunt of the cost alone.

A vote will have to be taken before any additional funds are spent on the project.

With concerns for maintenance, Byrd asked what the impact of the concrete would be.

“Regardless of the concrete option, it would be easier to maintain than brick,” Jim McLellan, public works director, said.

Pieces of sidewalk through downtown will be replaced over the next year as apart of the streetscape project, with the portions near City Hall and the parking garage slated to be the some of the first completed pieces.

In order to reduce the impact on downtown businesses during season, Callahan said they have pushed back the timeline for completing streetscape on Old Main Street between Third and Manatee avenues. A preliminary schedule shows work will likely be done in that stretch in June of 2020.

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Sara Nealeigh covers what’s happening in the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto, Florida for the Bradenton Herald. She previously covered breaking news for the Herald after moving to Florida from Ohio in 2016.