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Date of Issue: February 23, 2006

Don't blame city for sidewalk construction

Anna Maria Sidewalk
Anna Maria Sidewalk
Slow sidewalks
Manatee County School District crews were busy last week constructing a sidewalk along Gulf Drive east of the Manatee Public Beach, much to the consternation of motorists who were forced to endure long traffic backups in both directions. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Motorists heading to Anna Maria Island via the Palma Sola Causeway were treated to some heavy traffic backups last week, with vehicles extending back to the Anna Maria Island Bridge on some occasions.

The culprit was the construction of a sidewalk on the east side of Gulf Drive just north of the Manatee Avenue-Gulf Drive intersection, but irate motorists who called the city to ask why such construction was taking place in the height of the tourist season, were told to redirect their anger to the Manatee County School District.

"We didn’t know anything about it until the school board walked in here last week with the plans," said Mayor Carol Whitmore.

But the reason for the construction is a pretty good one, according to Whitmore.

"The sidewalk is for students walking to and from the Anna Maria Elementary School. The school board said it’s a safety issue for students walking on that side of the road. I just wish they had kept us informed of when they were starting," she said.

"Obviously, doing the work in the summer would cause a lot less traffic congestion, but the students who walk to school really need the sidewalk," she added.

Whitmore said she expected construction to be completed within a few days, but the school district has given her no firm date for completion.