+ 44th Avenue extension waste of taxpayers’ dollars
The 44th Avenue Extension (Cortez Road) is supposedly an alternative to State Road 70 and State Road 64 connecting Lakewood Ranch and the beach. It isn’t. They cross the Braden River and have Interstate 75 entrances. There are no approvals for a bridge, and an I-75 entrance has been denied.
So, what’s in it for Manatee residents? Not much, except a waste of money.
The $53,160,483 road goes from U.S. 41, near Steak ’n’ Shake, to 45th Street East (Lockwood Ridge Road).
At Steak ’n’ Shake, it will bottleneck from four to two lanes until it pops back to four at 15th Street. Stop at the red light at U.S. 301, and at another one at 30th Street East, where the speed drops to 35 mph. Another light at 37th. Again at 39th. Eventually, you reach the last one at 45th Street East with the Braden River straight ahead. Oops. No bridge. It’s $99.4 million more.
Turn left on 45th Street to get to S.R. 64. Oops. There’s the Braden River again. That won’t work.
Turn right on 45th Street. Oops. It’s not four lanes; it’s only two. In one mile, you reach S.R. 70 and turn left over that pesky river. Not to worry — they’ll widen that one-mile stretch of 45th Street East to four lanes for another $14.1 million.
Want to go west to the beach? Do the route in reverse and sit in traffic after Cortez drops back to two lanes.
Why not build 44th Avenue East from Steak ’n’ Shake to U.S. 301, an existing north/south four-lane highway and stop? Put the construction funds for the chunk from U.S. 301 to 45th Street East and the widening of 45 Street East aside until we have money and approvals for the bridge. Until then, there’s just not much in it for us.
Do it once and do it right.
Lodema D. Jenkins
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