The contrast couldn’t have been more vivid.
We went from an interview in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts, a tranquil, eccentric place with whimsically painted galleries and studios, to the construction zone around the Manatee County Courthouse.
It was like going from Dr. Seuss to “Dungeons and Dragons.”
Torn-up streets, blocked-off streets and construction at the courthouse made it a challenge to get to our destination, Council’s Recreation Parlor, 536 12th St. W., Bradenton.
It was lunch time, and we were ready to run the gauntlet of downtown traffic to get one of Lawton Smith’s famous cheeseburgers. Hunger is a powerful motivator.
But the closer we got to Council’s, the more difficult it got.
After running the maze, we arrived at our destination to find a construction barricade on the sidewalk in front of Council’s.
City workers had pulled up the brick sidewalk and burrowed into the earth to install a new water meter and backflow preventer.
In spite of that, Council’s lunch counter was packed. Lawyers in white shirts and ties sat there, along with blue-collar workers and a senior citizen or two.
Rep. Jim Boyd was there, too.
Lawton was standing at the grill, frying those burgers, and trying to keep up with the demand.
I was happy for Council’s that they were doing a good lunch trade in spite of the challenges of getting to the front door.
All that construction reminded me of the seemingly never-ending construction on State Road 70 between Tara and Lakewood Ranch from a few years back.
State Road 70 was eventually completed, but I’ll never forget the constant vibration, noise, and lane closures.
I like the fact that folks have jobs making something better in our community. Jobs are good in this bad economy. Road improvements are good, too. Ultimately, maybe the traffic flow will be better and motorists and pedestrians will be safer.
Not so crazy, though, about the inconvenience to businesses and drivers in the area.
Have to wonder how many automobile front ends have been knocked out of alignment by those jarring roads.
Maybe the end is in sight.
But you know what? There’s a long-anticipated dredging project getting ready to start at Wares Creek.
According to reporter Sara Kennedy, crews will be on the scene for a minimum of 18 months.
And residents can expect 25 trucks a day coming and going from the old City Hall property.
Buck up my friends.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021.