S.R. 64 widening project nearing May completion

Fresh asphalt applied this week near the intersection of State Road 64 and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard sends a clear signal that the $25.2 million widening project, which was launched in November 2007, is heading toward completion by the end of May.

The project, which is widening 1.9 miles of S.R. 64 from two lanes to six between Lena Road and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, was supposed to have been completed in 675 days from Nov. 26, 2007.

Roy Smith, vice president of Russell Engineering, the contractor for the project, said Wednesday he is hopeful the structural course of asphalt will be completed this week, and that the friction coat can be started in a week and a half.

“When you get to the friction course, it’s about over,” Smith said.

The friction course will need 30 days to set up, and all that will be left to do then is the striping of the roadway, Smith said.

“The job should be done by May 22,” Smith said.

The intersection is a budding commercial area with at least seven banks, a Publix supermarket, several restaurants and other businesses. A Mobil station with 12 pumping stations, a convenience store and a drive-through car wash is nearing completion in the vicinity, set to offer drivers an alternative to a very busy Hess station nearby.

The CVS pharmacy at the intersection is also set to receive some competition from a Walgreens under construction catty-corner across the intersection.

Portal Crossing has also been extended to S.R. 64, giving Imagine Charter School students, staff and parents a second way to enter and leave campus.

Denise Moraris, owner of Chloe’s Consignment Boutique in the Publix plaza, opened her business 2 1/2 years ago, and can’t remember a time when there wasn’t road construction.

“I know it’s progress. You have to do the construction, it’s understandable. But it’s been a long time,” said the Mill Creek resident.

Lisa Matthews, a west Bradenton resident who works as a receptionist at Ranch Animal Hospital, said she is accustomed to the construction, and thought it was “coming around.”

Dr. Adam T. Cohen, owner of Ranch Animal Hospital, said the road work has been a bit of “deja vu.”

Cohen, who has another clinic south of S.R. 70, endured the widening of that road a few years back. He said he thought the S.R. 64 project wasn’t as taxing for motorists as the S.R. 70 job.

“It’ll be great when it’s over. It’s created quite a log jam in the morning and afternoon,” he said.

Russell Engineering was also the contractor for the widening of S.R. 70.

When bids for the S.R. 64 project were opened in April 2007, five of the six bids came in below the $32 million the Florida Department of Transportation expected the project to cost, according to Herald archives.

Russell was the low bidder for the S.R. 64 project.

It was anticipated the job would take two years to complete.