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Date of Issue: March 12, 2008

Boat ramp work begins

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A crew with Seaway Marine works March 4 on a new boat ramp for the southwest end of the Palma Sola Causeway. The project, a partnership between the city of Bradenton and Manatee County, was sponsored by the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

Palma Sola Causeway walkers watched and wondered last week as a workers began building a boat ramp on the southwest section of beach.

“I’m just thrilled that this is happening for us,” said Palma Sola resident Bruce Penny. “Too many people think of the causeway as just a thru-way from town to the Island. It’s much more.”

Penny spends many mornings on the causeway. Sometimes he bicycles. Sometimes he fishes. Often he walks. And he sees a number of regulars, including Ann Schwartz, of Perico Island.

“I think for the most part residents out here are real excited about what’s happening, with the new county preservation lands and the Palma Sola improvements. We’ve got a real treasure,” Schwartz said.

Plans for the Palma Sola corridor - also known as State Road 64 and Manatee Avenue - include a new rest room, new bus shelters and a new newspaper rack.

Already in the works is a landscaping project that involves the planting of more than 700 trees, as well as ground cover, the painting of two murals and the construction of the boat ramp to replace the ramp at the northeast end of the causeway. That ramp apparently was never permitted.

Last week, a crew with Seaway Marine in St. Petersburg worked on the new ramp, and boaters joined walkers in sharing an enthusiasm for the project.

“This is a boating community,” said Fred Mason. “I think for economic and quality of life reasons, everything should be done to promote boating.”

The ramp is a partnership between the city of Bradenton and Manatee County and was sponsored by the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity, a group of citizens and civil servants guiding improvements to the causeway and along Manatee Avenue between Anna Maria Island and the mainland.