51st St./Cortez Road set for April closure

MANATEE — The planned closing of 51st Street West at Cortez Road next month is bound to create traffic snarls, but steps are being taken to minimize the headaches.

The Manatee County Public Works Department will be installing a waterline under Cortez Road and will have to close the cross street to traffic for about 120 feet, both north and south of the intersection, Michael O’Reilly, the county project manager, told a roomful of representatives from emergency, law enforcement, school bus, and other agencies Friday morning.

The closure is planned for about April 12, if possible, and will last for about two weeks on the southern portion of 51st Street West, and about a month for the northern half of the project, O’Reilly said.

A date after Easter was picked to avoid the heavy traffic from spring training and winter visitors from the north.

“Traffic will be lighter,” said Mark Fransen, a right-of-way inspector with the county public works department, who organized the meeting.

The construction work will not interfere with eastbound and westbound traffic on Cortez Road, since the pipeline will be installed by boring under the roadway.

O’Reilly said water service to homes and businesses should not be affected, unless some unforeseen problems arise.

All access to businesses from Cortez Road will be open, Fransen said, as well as the two side entrances on 51st Street West to the shopping plazas on the northeast and southeast portions of the intersection.

O’Reilly said his office looked at alternatives to closing all the lanes on51st Street West, but the roadway is not wide enough for the 14- to 16-foot trench that will be needed for the horizontal boring machine.

Pipeline Utilities Inc. will be doing the construction work for the county.

Traffic coming north from 53rd Avenue West will be detoured from 51st Street West to either 43rd or 66th streets west, which both cross Cortez Road.

Traffic heading south on 51st Street West will be directed to head west on 21st Avenue West to 59th Street West, then south to Cortez Road.

The only other major roadwork in the county causing road closures are the two 17th Avenue projects in Palmetto.

Seventh Avenue East is closed to through traffic from U.S. 41 east to about Canal Road for widening.

West of U.S. 41, 17th Avenue is closed at the railroad crossing while the track bed is reconstructed.

All of the businesses are open and have access, Fransen said.