FDOT seeking public input on port road

MANATEE — State transportation officials have identified six potential alignments for a proposed connector road between Port Manatee and Interstate 75.

Now, they want to hear what the public thinks.

The Florida Department of Transportation has scheduled a public meeting to present the proposed alignments for public review.

The meeting is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Manatee Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto.

“We’re looking to get more information and feedback from the public,” said Lauren Hatchell, an FDOT spokeswoman.

The agency is in the midst of a three-year study into the proposed connector, which port and Manatee County officials are pushing to avoid congestion from truck traffic as the port grows.

No money has been set aside for building the road.

Under two proposed alignments, the connector road would begin at Harllee Road and go eastward along County Line Road.

East of U.S. 41, their paths diverge: One alignment would curve northeast and link with Valroy Road in southern Hillsborough County, while the other generally would follow the county line.

Both would end with new interchanges at I-75.

A third alignment begins at U.S. 41 just north of North Dock Street, bypasses Airport Manatee to the south and then generally follows the county line to I-75.

The three remaining alignments begin at U.S. 41 and North Dock Street, then travel south on or alongside U.S. 41 before turning east onto or alongside one of three existing roads: Buckeye Road, Moccasin Wallow Road or Interstate 275.

In the last three alignments, the connector could either be port traffic-only lanes on the existing roads or a parallel road with limited access, said Chris Piazza, project development engineer for the FDOT district that include Manatee.

Existing interchanges also could be modified for the connector road, he said.

But details likely won’t be determined until next year, after FDOT picks its preferred alignment following another public meeting later this year.

At Tuesday’s informal meeting, residents will be able to review maps depicting the various alignments, ask questions of FDOT staff and consultants, and make oral or written comments, Hatchell said.

Duane Marsteller, transportation/growth and development reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2630.