Water taxi holdup: Bradenton Beach floating dock delays

Bradenton Beach is the hitch in the long-awaited water taxi.

“One lesson I’ve learned is that this sort of thing is really a long-term project that takes years to develop correctly,” Capt. Sherman Baldwin, owner of Paradise Boat Tours in Bradenton Beach said Jan. 3 regarding his delayed attempt to launch a water taxi service connecting Bradenton Beach to downtown Bradenton and Sarasota.

Plans for the water taxi were approved by the three cities in 2017, and Baldwin is ready to roll.

The boat, a 149 passenger high-speed catamaran, is ready to launch, but will not be released by lenders until all three dock locations are cleared for use.

Having secured a dock for arrivals and departures near downtown Sarasota — the 10th Street Boat Basin at Centennial Park — and the public dock near Riverwalk on the Manatee River in downtown Bradenton, Baldwin is just waiting on Bradenton Beach.

Bradenton Beach and Baldwin are awaiting the installation of the new floating dock to load and unload passengers at the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

The dock — a replacement for a previously damaged dock — was contracted by the Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency in March 2017 at a cost of $119,980 — half of which will be reimbursed to the city from Manatee County using tourist tax dollars.

Initially, representatives from dock contractor Technomarine said they could begin work on the new dock in September 2017, after receiving the city’s deposit in August.

However, a busy hurricane season delayed progress, and installation is now planned for February, according to Technomarine.

“The Bridge Street floating dock is the only thing holding us back now,” Baldwin said Jan. 19. “This is the last threshold we have to cross to get this thing done.”

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