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Date of Issue: January 18, 2007

Lots of projects ahead for Bradenton Beach

2007 promises to be an historic year for Bradenton Beach.

More than $4 million in capital improvement projects are slated to commence and be completed within the city in the next 12 months, a record unsurpassed since the first beach renourishment project in the city in 1992-93.

The work will stretch the length of the city.

Probably first to reach fruition will be the Coquina Beach Trail, a joint Manatee County-Bradenton Beach project that will add an 8-foot-wide pathway to the park from Fifth Street South to just west of the Longboat Pass Bridge.

That project was approved by Manatee County commissioners last week, and is scheduled to commence very soon with a completion date within 60 days. Cost is about $250,000.

Probably the biggest and longest-awaited effort of the city is resurrection of the city pier restaurant. Bradenton Beach officials have secured a $2.1 million line of credit to build a 92-seat restaurant, as well as dockmaster, tackle shop-informational kiosk buildings and rest rooms. Floating docks will also be constructed to the south of the pier, located east of Bridge Street in Anna Maria Sound.

Building official Ed Mc Adam has said that Southern Cross Construction of Sarasota proposes to have the restaurant area completed by July 1. The floating dock structure, paid for in large part by grants, will be completed by late June. Overall construction is due to be finished by early August.

Rotten Ralph’s Restaurant will manage the pier restaurant as a franchisee of the city, paying $8,500 a month.

If the pier work is the biggest capital improvement project in the city, a sidewalk-streetscape effort scheduled to start in August will be the longest — a path off Gulf Drive along the east side of the road that will run from the northernmost border of the city to Cortez Road.

Through a Florida Department of Transportation grant, a 5-foot-wide sidewalk will link existing paths in a trail through the city, with low-level landscaping featured. All of the sidewalk will be handicap-friendly, according to DOT’s Chris Piazza.

There will be a jog off Gulf Drive at 22nd Street to Avenue C to avoid the S-curve, Piazza said.

Total cost of the DOT-funded project is about $700,000.

Another Gulf Drive pathway project will take place south of Cortez Road to Fifth Street South. Mitch McKnight, of the engineering firm of Wilson-Miller, said he hopes to go out to bid for a contractor any day, with an award expected by April and construction to start soon thereafter.

The project includes sidewalks on the east and west sides of Gulf Drive, landscaping and paved crosswalks at the sidestreet intersections.

Three trolley shelters will be constructed in the $350,000 project, mimicking an Old Florida style with metal roofs and open sides, on the east and west sides of Gulf Drive at Second Street and at Fifth Street South. There will also be a crosswalk constructed at Gulf Drive at Fifth Street South to tie into the Coquina Beach Trail starting point.

Curbing will be added along both sides of the roadway as well, McKnight said.

Beachgoers will enjoy boardwalks and shower facilities at the beach-Gulf access points at both Bridge Street and Fourth Street South.

At the Cortez Road/Gulf Drive intersection, some significant improvements are planned, according to Susan Kenney with the engineering firm of PBS&J.

Resurfacing of the roadway from the Cortez Bridge west to and including Gulf Drive will commence shortly after April 30. Also included in the project is replacing the dangling traffic signals with a solid mast-arm arrangement, which has been mandated for all traffic signals in Florida due to storm/wind codes.

Based upon comments by Bradenton Beach Scenic Highway Committee members, Kenney said she would also look at reconfiguring the intersection’s northbound eastern turn lane onto Cortez Road to encourage more traffic to flow onto that road rather than stack up on Gulf Drive. She also was going to install measures that would keep the intersection more clear of vehicular traffic when the bridge draw is open.

Cost of the project is about $472,000, she said.

Minimal traffic impacts are expected for the intersection work, Kenney added.

Also within the capital projects in the city is the dredging of the two canals at Anna Maria Sound off 21st Street, at an estimated expense of $88,000, and the ongoing Waterfronts Florida Program at $50,000 for two years.

It promises to be a year of challenging projects for Bradenton Beach and its motorists.