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Date of Issue: March 03, 2010

Sidewalk discussion on track in Holmes Beach

Discussions continued last week to extend sidewalks from the north and south ends of Manatee Avenue to Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach.

Holmes Beach City Commissioner David Zaccagnino, superintendent of public works Joe Duennes, two Manatee County engineers and Manatee County Commission Chair Joe McClash met on the sidewalk of Manatee Avenue Feb. 22 to discuss the project.

For more than two years, Zaccagnino has been pushing to connect a sidewalk on Manatee Avenue from the west end of Kingfish Boat Ramp to Gulf Drive, a roughly 950-foot extension. Currently, there is little separating that path of grass on Manatee Avenue from what many use as a pedestrian path.

“The main reason is for safety and convenience,” Zaccagnino said.

But the plan also would extend the sidewalk on the southern side of Manatee Avenue alongside Regions Bank about 250 feet to Gulf Drive.

Duennes estimated the cost of construction for a sidewalk extension on the south side of Manatee Avenue to be $25,000-$30,000.

For the north side, which is on Florida Department of Transportation property, Duennes said the DOT initially considered the area to be wetlands, and so the county was considering building a sidewalk with a railing, an estimated $250,000 project. But, Duennes added, during the Feb. 22 site meeting, the five discussed the possibility of an 8-foot-wide combined bicycle-pedestrian path. “Which would be much less expensive than $250,000,” Duennes said.

County engineers will make a design drawing of the project and present it to the DOT for consideration. Duennes said funding is unknown, although the county could apply for stimulus funds to support the project.

Duennes said the biggest challenge will be DOT permitting.

McClash said that in the design drawing, the northern pathway would be similar to the existing one along the Kingfish Boat Ramp, with a sidewalk and curb.

“I think the cost would be affordable,” McClash said.

McClash added there could be leftover money from the city’s project that will beautify the intersection of East Bay Drive and Manatee Avenue. The beautification is slated to include 209 foxtail trees, 42 Alexander palms, 96 beach sunflower plants, a crape myrtle tree and a mulch tree.

The $697,000 project includes new traffic signals.