PALMETTO -- At Monday's MPO Meeting, board members voted to approve the FDOT Draft Tentative Five Year Work Program, with the caveat that the Project Development and Environmental (PD&E) study for a future De Soto Bridge project be dropped and a Feasibility Study be adopted instead. The bridge on U.S. 301 connects the City of Palmetto with the City of Bradenton and both Mayor Bryant of Palmetto and Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey of Bradenton said they were not consulted, nor did either approve of the change.
Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie presented a letter to the MPO Board stating the Manatee BOCC's wish, apparently without much notice to the rest of the board. Chappie, who just replaced retired County Commissioner Donna Hayes on the MPO Board, had Commissioner Larry Bustle do the talking. Bustle said there was no sense in going forward with the project if there was no money there to build the bridge. The board voted at a meeting last week to shift the priorities.
The De Soto bridge is considered to be a primary FDOT project, important to both the city of Palmetto and the City of Bradenton. Supporters of the PD&E for the bridge argue that the matter is a safety issue as much as it is and issue of it being outdated and a point of congestion.
FDOT officials say the money spent to date on the charrette (part of the PD&E) will have to be spent again if the project is to ever go forward. Officials from both sides of the bridge say that it is essential to the life of the economy both north and south of the river.
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