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Date of Issue: June 24, 2009

DOT details Gulf Drive project

Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach from Fifth Street South to Cortez Road is due for some improvements with federal stimulus dollars. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

The Florida Department of Transportation detailed its plans for Gulf Drive improvements to be funded with federal stimulus dollars.

The project, which has been reduced from the plans submitted by Bradenton Beach city officials and drafted by WilsonMiller engineering firm, will extend from Fifth Street South to Cortez Road.

The work will involve the addition of new sidewalks, reconstruction of existing sidewalks, minor drainage modifications and landscaping, said DOT spokesperson Cindy Clemmons-Adente.

The sidewalk being constructed will run along the west edge of Gulf Drive/State Road 789 and will include curbing.

Additionally, the DOT will install bollards and ropes along the sidewalk at some locations in front of the public beach area at the southern end of the project.

The plans provide for the addition of native plant species, as requested by the city, as well as placement of some benches.

The project does not include a requested concrete deck facility with a public shower at Bridge Street or a wooden deck at Fourth Street. A dune crossover bridge also was excluded.

Eliminated from the plan prior to its submission to the DOT were new, decorative street-lighting fixtures, which the Florida Department of Environmental Protection had issues with because of sea turtles nesting on the nearby beaches.

“All of these elements have been removed at this time due to concerns raised by the FDEP as part of the Beach and Shores Permit application process,” Clemmons-Adente said.

She added that the federal government requires that the state get moving on the project as quickly as possible so elements that could involve lengthy delays for review and permitting were removed. Funding restrictions also prohibit the DOT from going over-budget on stimulus projects, and permitting can be expensive.

“During our discussion with the city, all parties agreed that items that are not included within the stimulus project would still be considered as part of the on-going project for the future,” Clemmons-Adente said.

The elements dropped from the stimulus plan may be added at a later time.

“It is still going to be a good job,” Clemmons-Adente said. “And the city can always go back and address these other things with DEP, but they can’t be done with this money today.”

The stimulus project budget is $830,169, which is higher in part than the city’s estimate because it includes oversight work by inspectors and engineers.

Any money budgeted for the project but not used will be returned to the Sarasota-Manatee pot of federal stimulus funds for other work.

“It stays local,” Clemmons-Adente said. “It is not going to get wasted. It will be used within the area. We will put it to another project that is shovel-ready.”