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Local Government 301 Bridge and 15th Street Project Given Priority at BOCC/MPO Joint Workshop


BRADENTON -- The Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization came to the BOCC workshop with a plate full of projects. Last weekend's fatality on the route 301 bridge connecting Palmetto to Bradenton may have pushed the project to modify the bridge up on the list of priorities and 15th Street may be closer to securing some funds. 

The Sarasota/Manatee Planning Organization (MPO) is mandated each year to submit to its respective State Departments of Transportation a prioritized list of projects and programs for its MPO area for program funding consideration by Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). FDOT then each year submits a 5-year draft program which, based upon available federal and state transportation funds, attempts to address MPO priorities.

Michael Howe, Executive Director, Sarasota/Manatee MPO, reviewed some of the projects nearing completion. On the list was the Parrish 301 extension and S.R. 64, east of Interstate 75. Others working their way up the list are 15th. Street East, the Manatee River bridge and improvements to the U.S. 41 corridor. 

One of the projects not on the 5-year plan was the Ellenton-Gillette 69th St. to Buckeye Rd. project. The funding for a Project Development and Environment study (PD&E) was programed for fiscal year 2017 at $1.6 Million. The MPO was considering a motion Commissioner Joe McClash made at the October meeting, which was to utilize the $1.6 million for a PD&E study and give the U.S. 301 project priority. There would need to be additional funds and a Long Range Transportation Plan for the 301 project, but sooner rather than later, the problem would need to be addressed. 

McClash brought up the need to have pedestrian lanes on the bridge. "With the convention center on one side of the river and hotels on the other, people need to be able to walk across the bridge, or bike." 

Frank Meares, FDOT Liaison District One said, "projects have to be fully funded to move through the 20 year plan." McClash suggested, that is why we need to be thinking about 301 now. 

Commissioner Carol Whitmore asked if any of the $1.6 could be used for the 15th St. project and Mike Howe said yes. Whitmore asked if there was a PD&E for 15th St. and Howe said that there was. Meares then explained that PD&E's never expire, but you have to keep going back to do evaluations. From the look of things, the 301 bridge and the 15th Street improvements are moving high on the priority list. 


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