Quiet White Eagle Boulevard is close to becoming a new north-south connector.
For the time being, it’s a quiet drive along White Eagle Boulevard in Lakewood Ranch.
The four-lane road, which opened its northernmost section — north of 44th Avenue East — in February, eventually will connect State Road 64 with State Road 70 to the south. The road runs to within 100 feet south of S.R. 64 in anticipation of the planned roundabout the Florida Department of Transportation will build at the current S.R. 64-Rye Road intersection.
That leads to driving nirvana for those in communities using the stretch of road, which runs parallel to Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Lorraine Road, approximately midway between those two.
It isn’t likely to be so peaceful in spring 2019, when FDOT spokesman Robin Stublen said the $3.64 million roundabout project should be completed.
“It’s another north-south connector,” said Richard Bedford, vice president of planning for Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, which built White Eagle Boulevard. “Its biggest impact will be to take some traffic off Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.”
Stublen said the roundabout is about 60% designed and construction will begin in May 2018. The project will take an estimated 300 days.
SMR agreed to donate the land south of the intersection to connect the roundabout with White Eagle Boulevard, Stublen said.
On the north side of S.R. 64, Manatee County continues work along Rye Road, which has an average daily traffic count of 11,119 vehicles. Contractors had cleared land for the installation of a 12-inch pressurized sewage line and construction of a master lift station, to meet current and future capacity needs.
Functional roadway improvements on Rye Road are coming later this year, after the county goes out to bid for the work. They include widening the two bridges on Mill Creek to provide 12-foot travel lanes and 6-foot paved shoulders on the roadway, as well as construction of a 12-foot, multiuse trail.
“The roadway improvements are being constructed to improve safety to the traveling public,” said Sage Kamiya, deputy director of traffic management for Manatee County Public Works. “The Rye Road functional improvement project is necessary with or without the FDOT roundabout project.”
Kamiya said after all the roadway segments — Rye Road, the roundabout and the connection to White Eagle — are completed, it will provide much-needed north-south connectivity.
“This roadway project is essential to the county’s road network,”Kamiya said. “Rye Road is designated as an arterial roadway and by definition is intended to serve north-south travel, provide improved mobility and carry trips with origin and destination in the area.”