FDOT holds public hearing on downtown Bradenton pedestrian safety project

Florida Department of Transportation officials involved with a downtown Bradenton pedestrian safety improvement project presented tentative design plans to the public Thursday night at City Hall.

Jordan Leep, FDOT engineer of record, said the project is being coordinated between the city of Bradenton and FDOT, which is designing it. The city will eventually put the project out to bid as part of a coordinated effort to replace a 1940s era water main line along Eighth Avenue West. The boundaries of the proposed project run along Eighth Avenue from 14th Street West to Ninth Street West.

Project goals are to improve pedestrian safety and connectivity between downtown Bradenton and the Village of the Arts.

“But the impetus of the project is for safety,” said Leep, who noted initial designs call for three new crossing areas complete with flashing pedestrian lights to warn vehicles when someone is about to cross.

Medians will be installed in a large segment of the project area to provide pedestrians with a safe place to wait for passing traffic. Eighth Avenue West will be reduced to 11-foot through lanes in each direction with designated turn lanes at each intersection, “to make room for more vehicles,” said Leep.

Leep said some state funding will be available out of the Local Agency Program, which helps municipalities offset safety project costs. The estimated cost of the project is $500,000.

FDOT is designing the project for the city, which will bid the project out later this year.

Public Works Director Jim McLellan said the pedestrian safety project is being coordinated at the same time as a water main project.

“It will help reduce our costs on the planned water main project. It will be bid out as one whole project,” he said.

Amy Blair, FDOT engineer, said written public comment will continue to be taken until July 25. Tentative design plans will be on display at the Manatee County Central Library through during library hours until the deadline. Written comments can be sent to 801 N. Broadway MS 1-29, Bartow FL 33830.

Blair said public comment is crucial to the final design.

“The possibility still exists to incorporate those ideas into the project,” Blair said.

Project manager David Jones said during a May presentation to city council that bike lanes would not be included, “because we just don’t have the footprint to do it.”

Ward 3 Councilman Patrick Roff spearheaded the project as chairman of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization. He said safe pedestrian travel from downtown to the village has been a goal since Realize Bradenton first worked with the community to develop the Village of the Arts tapestry plan.