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East County Wednesday, Apr. 6, 2016 4 years ago

Construction update: Ft. Hamer Bridge

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Waterlefe residents express concern about construction noise and landscape destruction.
by: Jessica Salmond Staff Writer

With the Fort Hamer bridge still a year from completion, those driving Upper Manatee River Road will begin seeing delays in the coming months.

Manatee County is working on the piping and drainage system for the new bridge and a span of Winding Stream Road will be shifted west to accommodate a drainage pond. The traffic flow of Upper Manatee River Road, where it intersects with Winding Stream Road, will be affected.

Trudy Gerena, the community outreach coordinator for Manatee County, said motorists can expect to see intermittent delays during the next few months as crews work on the drainage system.

The biggest detours will hit in July, if weather conditions and construction schedules don’t delay construction.

In July, traffic traveling north on Upper Manatee River Road between Third Avenue Northeast and Gates Creek Road will be rerouted and shifted to one lane.

Drivers traveling north will detour onto Third Avenue Northeast to Gates Creek Road before returning to Upper Manatee River Road.

Drivers traveling south will not detour.

Residents living off Gates Creek Road will have to make the loop if they are traveling east to west on Upper Manatee River Road.

However, Waterlefe Golf & River Club residents traveling northbound on Upper Manatee River Road will be allowed to drive up to Waterlefe Boulevard to get in the main gate, Gerena said.

Landscaping line

Several residents approached the Waterlefe Community Development District board members during the March 21 meeting to ask about landscape destruction.

County crews have chopped down vegetation as they prepare for construction. Residents who live in the homes backing up to the construction said that has increased noised levels.

One resident said the community’s fence is now visible, where it was once blocked by vegetation.

“Since they’ve devastated the foliage back there to do the roadwork, you can walk right on to our property,” said Cathy Groelly, who lives off of Winding Stream Way. “Is there going to be any landscaping for noise abatement?”

Rick Schappacher, district engineer, said part of the problem was that vegetation on Waterlefe’s side had overgrown into the county right of way, so the county hadn’t chopped down anything that belonged to Waterlefe and had tried to keep as many trees as possible.

“By Fairway 14 they removed quite a bit, but it was stuff in their right of way,” he said.

Schappacher said the county had to cut the budget for the project, so it won’t be spending extra on landscaping. He wants to work with the county and the CDD’s maintenance crew to get extra fill dirt from the county to make a new berm between the road and the golf cart path with a hedge on top to help with noise and line-of-sight issues.

The real problem will come in 10 years or so when the county plans to build a second Fort Hamer bridge, Schappacher said. The second, west overpass will be closer to residential lots than the one under construction now.

“It’s tight — it’s going to be very close back there,” he said.

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