Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Road Project Raising Concerns

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Road Project Raising Concerns

Article excerpt

CORTEZ ROAD: Extension to East Manatee is planned, but river presents obstacle

BRADENTON

More than 1,400 residents living in Manatee County are concerned about a "road to nowhere."

The corridor of concern is that of 44th Avenue East, as the county prepares to extend Cortez Road from Anna Maria Island to Lorraine Road in East Manatee.

The county has funding, construction plans and permits to fill in the gaps of 44th Avenue East from First to 45th streets. Some land still must be acquired for rights-of-way.

Then the project comes to a halt at the Braden River. A bridge must be built over the waterway, requiring extensive permitting that could take more than three years to obtain. The county would also have to complete a construction plan and acquire land for the bridge.

The estimated cost of extending the road to Lakewood Ranch Boulevard is about $100 million.

"We know the comprehensive plan includes extending 44th Avenue from Anna Maria Island to Lakewood Ranch, and beyond to Lorraine Road," said Loretto Sadkin, a resident of Peridia Golf and Country Club, which is adjacent to 45th Street East. "We recognize the need, and support construction of an east-west artery. "

Concerns arise with the plan's implementation. To allow for the estimated eight to 12 years for the river crossing to be finished, the county commission previously approved widening 45th Street East to four lanes from the extension to State Road 70. Residents living in the six communities along that two-lane stretch are concerned about property values, noise, safety, pollution and congestion.

Those residents, who wore red at Tuesday's commission meeting to signify stopping the project, offered three recommendations: Stop the extension at U.S. 301 until necessary funding and permits are obtained to cross Braden River, stop acquisition of land along 45th Street East, and redirect $11.6 million set aside for widening 45th Street East to the east-west extension.

"How efficient is an implementation plan that stops halfway through a project and takes 15 years to complete it? …

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