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Date of Issue: January 06, 2010

Island transportation projects receive funding

The Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization released its five-year work program on Dec. 14, and some proposed Anna Maria Island projects received considerable funding.

“Over the past four years there has been a serious decline in transportation revenues,” said MPO executive director Michael Howe, “basically through gas taxes in the state of Florida. We’ve seen a decrease in revenues that help fund transportation and this is probably the best program for the next five years we’ve had since probably 2004.”

The city of Anna Maria received an additional $600,000 in a transportation enhancement grant for its boardwalk and landscaping project proposed for the city pier. City Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick had been working with a committee for more than a year to design the project, which includes new driveways, a boardwalk at the base of the pier, native plants, and relocation of the trolley stop near a covered picnic area.

The total the city will receive for the project, which could be completed in 2011, is more than $900,000.

At the Dec. 7 Island Transportation Planning Organization meeting, Manon Lavoie, community liaison officer with the Florida Department of Transportation, wrote the MPO requesting the increased funding.

Holmes Beach also benefitted, as its plan for landscape improvements at the intersection of East Bay Drive at 31st Street south of the Publix store, was budgeted for about $350,000 in funds, bringing the total the city will receive for the project to about $550,000.

The improvements will include an extensive upgrade to the landscaping, traffic signal and sidewalk.

The tentative amendments will go before Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to become part of the state budget, which the Legislature will consider in the spring.

In addition, Neal Preserve on the southside of Manatee Avenue near the Anna Maria Island Bridge, which is destined to become a passive park, was budgeted for $315,357 to move forward with a 2012-13 project funded for a bike and walking trail.

Bradenton Beach was budgeted for an extra $600,000 in stimulus funds for improvements along Gulf Drive from the Cortez Bridge through Coquina Beach.

“The improvements will start this year on that stretch,” Howe said of the Gulf Drive project, which he said include a lot of pedestrian amenities and improvements to sidewalks, landscaping and lighting.”

Finally for 2010, the MPO board elected Marianne Barnebey, councilwoman of Bradenton, to chair the board, and Joseph Barbetta, a Sarasota County commissioner, to vice chair.