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East County Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019 6 months ago

Public-private partnership drives traffic flow in Lakewood Ranch

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Six-party partnership enhances $1.8 million improvement project at Lorraine Road and State Road 70.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Sia Mollanazar watched as development applications at Lorraine Road and State Road 70 continued to trickle into the Manatee County’s Public Works department.

There were proposals for the future Publix shopping center on the northeast corner of the intersection, as well as a 254-unit apartment complex immediately north of it. To the west, a veterinary clinic was planned for the site north of the Lorraine Corners Northwest plaza, home to Dunkin’ Donuts.

All the projects were within a quarter-mile stretch on Lorraine Road between S.R. 70 and 59th Avenue East. 

Mollanazar, deputy director of the Manatee County Public Works Engineering Services Division, knew a lot of people would be navigating the area on the roads. He started to wonder.

Manatee County already was planning $650,000 of road improvements in that area and each application was satisfying its own transportation needs. But what if they could do something better together?

Mollanazar coordinated with the property owners and developers in that area, and six months later the project has morphed into a

six-party agreement that includes $1.8 million in road improvements, and a hopefully smoother, safer intersection.

“That’s a public-private partnership,” Manatee County Public Works Interim Director Chad Butzow said.

Butzow said if each developer  concentrated on its own project, the end result wouldn’t have worked out nearly as well as a collaborative effort.

Two of the developers are putting $550,000 toward the project, three other landowners or developers are providing right of way land or public access.

The Florida Department of Transportation also is allowing Manatee County to use one of its existing stormwater ponds for water runoff, Mollanazar said.

Lorraine Road will expand lanes on both the north and south sides of State Road 70 as motorists approach the intersection. The project will reconfigure the entrances and exits to the businesses  that will be safer than each property having its own entrances and exits.

Bill Shallcross, who represents apartment developer Picerne Development, said the company is pleased to be part of the project. Manatee County commissioners approved its 154-unit luxury apartment complex at the southeast corner of 59th Avenue East and Lorraine Road on Feb. 7. Residents will access the project both from 59th Avenue East and from Lorraine Road.

“We’re all working together. It’s going to give us a nicer front door and it will be safer for our residents,” Shallcross said. “We see no downside.”

Mollanazar said the configuration is the ultimate buildout, meaning if and when Lorraine Road is widened to four lanes north of State Road 70 (through to State Road 64), no changes will be needed.

Mollanazar said the arrangement is “at the hand shake level,” but a draft agreement is being crafted.

“They’re designing (the road) as we speak,” Mollanazar said. “To us, this is our buildout.”

Mollanazar said Publix, which plans to open its new shopping center in 2020, is taking the lead on engineering and constructing the improvements, although Manatee County engineers will work concurrently on the project.

“Publix will be involved as part of the Lorraine Road improvements that tie-in access to our shopping center to ensure the safety of our customers,” Publix spokesman Brian West said in a statement.

Manatee County District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said she is thrilled.

“It’s fantastic whenever the private sector and the county can work together to achieve improvements,” Baugh said. “That’s a sign of a true community.”

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