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East County Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 4 months ago

Proposed Tara Boulevard bridge removed from Manatee's future traffic plan

Commissioners voted 5-2 to adopt the long-range Traffic Circulation Plan that includes the removal of a proposed bridge over Braden River that would have connected Tara Boulevard and Honore Avenue.
by: Scott Lockwood Staff Writer

Tara Boulevard has been poised to become a thoroughfare road connecting Honore Avenue to Tara Boulevard with a bridge over the Braden River.

That’s no longer the case after Manatee County commissioners voted 5-2 to eliminate the bridge as part of final adoption of the county’s long-range Traffic Circulation Plan at a land use meeting Jan. 6. Commissioners Misty Servia and Carol Whitmore voted against the plan changes.  

The Traffic Circulation Plan is part of Manatee County’s comprehensive plan. It explains how the county plans to provide infrastructure for future growth and is built on traffic projections in the county until the year 2045. The traffic plan was transmitted to the state Oct. 21 and was given final approval Jan. 6. 

In October, commissioners requested possible changes to Tara Boulevard and to Mulholland Road in Parrish. In May, commissioners said the plan for the bridge no longer made sense.

As a result, all of Tara Boulevard from Honore Avenue to State Road 70 was removed from the plan. Plans calling for a bridge connecting the Tara Boulevard and Honore Avenue over the Braden River that would have been built south of Linger Lodge Road have been eliminated. 

“This road will now be designated as a local road, and there will be no further plans to build a Tara bridge,” said Clarke Davis, the Manatee County deputy director of traffic management.  

Tara resident Cathy Woolley said a bridge on Tara Boulevard “would have been a bridge to nowhere.”

“It wasn’t a wise choice for the county,” she said. “We’re also happy that Tara Boulevard will not be a thoroughfare road and that some of the circulation (of traffic) will be removed.”

Tara Community Development District 1 Chair Darby Connor said seeing the bridge plan go away was a sense of relief.

“We have a two-lane section of road through here on Tara Boulevard that’s very dangerous to travel,” Connor said. “Taking that bridge away will keep the traffic down tremendously.”

Connor called the removal of the plan for a bridge another victory for improving safety on Tara Boulevard. Manatee County addressed resident concerns about speeders on the 2-mile segment of Tara Boulevard between Linger Lodge Road and S.R. 70 by installing three temporary speed tables on both lanes. Connor said the county will add permanent tables in February.

“They’ve made a huge difference in slowing the traffic down,” he said.

A center section of Mulholland Road in Parrish, which was a gap from west of Gamble Creek to Twin Rivers Trail, was also removed from the plan. Plans initially showed that Mulholland Road would connect Fort Hamer Road and Rye Road.

Future plans also call for a four-lane extension of Rye Road from County Road 675 to State Road 62.

“These are areas that are developing or are poised to develop over the next five to 10 years,” Davis said. “It'll impact how we negotiate with some of those developers as they go forward.”

Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge said it was prudent for the county to keep the current plans for four-lane roads because the cost to narrow a road is more expensive than widening a road.

“We're doing a lot of long-range planning here, and once we essentially relinquish that, there's a lot of value in that environment,” he said. “If we pass it up now, we could find ourselves down the road wanting to four lane that, and it would cost future taxpayers substantially.”

In other business, the commission unanimously approved the rezoning of the 110-acre Premier Park from general agriculture to planned development public interest. The site is the home of the East Manatee County Library, which broke ground Dec. 15.

Deputy County Administrator Charlie Bishop said the rezone gives the county the green light to build whatever they need on the property, which includes the library that’s scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023, an aquatic center that is slated for 2024, pickleball courts, maintenance facilities and more.

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