Construction set to begin on 6,900-foot long bridge over Manatee River.
Manatee County’s Sia Mollanazar and Eric Shroyer stood on a mound of dirt by the Braden River and looked eastward toward the King Family Farm & Market property, off Caruso Road.
Soon, the dirt on which they were standing will become part of of a four-lane, 6,900-foot-long bridge across the Braden River. This future extension of 44th Avenue East will bring Manatee County one step closer to its goal of having a roadway span from the beaches in the west to Lakewood Ranch in the east.
“State Road 64 and 70 are already built out. There is no widening left,” said Mollanazar, deputy director of Manatee County Public Works’ Engineering Services Division.“During peak traffic, it’s horrible. The only other road that goes from the beach to out east is this 44th Avenue. It has to help with congestion.”
Manatee County officials on March 12 approved the $5 million acquisition of about 16.3 acres from King Family Farm & Market, at 4630 60th St. E. (Caruso Road), Bradenton. After the county closes on that land, it will have all the property needed to move forward with construction of 44th Avenue East across Braden River to 44th Avenue Plaza East, which is just east of where 44th Avenue East currently meets Morgan Johnson Road, east of the Braden River.
Construction on the first segment of the 44th Avenue East Extension project began in 2013 at Cortez Road and 44th Avenue East as part of Manatee County’s 1989 Comprehensive Plan. After the roadway spans east to Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, there will be about 8 miles of roadway connecting Cortez Road and its beaches to Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.
Manatee County will use the King Family Farm & Market property to jog the road southward and smooth out the sharp curves that exist in that area today.
“Where the bridge lands is King Ranch,” Mollanazar said. “The King piece was really the heart of the project. Where else would the bridge go? No matter where you crossed it, you could not miss it.”
Manatee County spent about $13 million to acquire 40 parcels for that segment of the project.
Construction costs are estimated at $49 million plus another $15 million for required utility work, Mollanazar said.
Officials expect to break ground on that road segment by the end of the year.
Manatee County also is working on designs for the last remaining piece of 44th Avenue East it plans to build. That segment will run roughly from 44th Avenue Plaza East eastward, taking a new alignment south of the FP&L power substation and will continue eastward just north of The Ridge at Crossing Creek community. From there, it will cross Interstate 75, wind through the Lena Road Landfill property and land at the back entrance of Rosedale Golf and Country Club, west of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.
Mollanazar said on the landfill site, the road will go through an existing reclaimed water storage pond, which Manatee County will have to fill and at least partially relocate to build the road, to provide the least impact on neighboring homes.
“You have no choice,” Mollanazar said. “Everything is developed.”
Design of that segment is expected to take another 18 months, Mollanazar said.
Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch has already constructed the section of 44th Avenue East from the back entrance of the Rosedale Golf and Country Club east to White Eagle Boulevard. Sections from White Eagle Boulevard east to Lakewood Ranch’s easternmost boundary, the future Bourneside Boulevard, are under construction by the Lakewood Ranch Stewardship District.
Manatee County’s future traffic circulation maps show a possible two-lane extension of 44th Avenue East farther east, to east of Verna Bethany Road. There are no plans to construct that section of roadway at this time.