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East County Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019 3 weeks ago

Manatee County's Rye Road project might need additional time

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Contractor tries to rebound from a significant delay.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Contractors on Manatee County’s project to improve Rye Road are working hard to get out of catch-up mode.

Contractor Gator Grading and Paving in October 2018 started work on the roughly $5.9 million project to improve Rye Road roughly from State Road 64 to Upper Manatee River Road and install a new force main there.

The Rye Road project includes widening the existing two-lane road to current standards with 12-foot travel lanes (from 10.5-foot wide) in each direction, as well as 6-foot-wide paved bicycle lanes and an additional 4-foot stabilized shoulder for safety in both directions.

Gator project manager John Rugman said there have been delays related to rain, relocation of fiber optics and a restriction on work hours meant to minimize impacts to traffic flow around Gene Witt Elementary School at arrival and dismissal times. Gator also could not keep both lanes of traffic open while completing work, as initially planned.

“We’re down to almost 50% of a workday,” Rugman said just of the restricted operating hours, which prohibits work roughly before 8 a.m. and after 2:30 p.m. “We’re on schedule as well as we can be.”

Manatee County project manager Mike Sturm said per the terms of the contract with Manatee County, Gator has until March 27, 2020, to have the project “substantially complete,” which means the public would have full use of the roadway. However, Sturm said he expects the county will work with Gator to provide additional time under the circumstances.

“They’re a good contractor,” he said. “It’s a big job. We’re moving along.”

The roadwork also includes widening two concrete bridges along Rye Road.

Sturm said the overall improvements will enhance safety along the corridor.

“You will be able to pull off the road safely,” he said. “You can’t do that now.”

The project also includes the installation of a new force main in the area, and much of that work now is finished. Sturm said the last component is building a master lift station and rehabbing the lift station at Gene Witt Elementary School to connect to the new master lift station.

Sia Mollanazar, Manatee County’s deputy director of public works in the engineering services division, said those improvements complete utility work needed along Rye Road.

“It is master planned,” Mollanazar said.

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