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East County Wednesday, Apr. 1, 2020 2 months ago

Safety improvement in works in Lakewood Ranch

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White Eagle/S.R. 70 signal should be online in 3 months.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Lakewood Ranch’s Tony Llamas could get to his Polo Run home sooner after work if he could make a left hand turn from White Eagle Boulevard onto State Road 70.

But he avoids the dangerous intersection.

“It’s too risky,” Llamas said.

However, he will be able to make that turn soon because improvements are on the way.

Manatee County has received a permit from the Florida Department of Transportation to begin construction of a temporary signal at the intersection.

“The purpose of the temporary signal is to have something in place while we do the design and permitting for the permanent signal,” said Chad Butzow, director of Manatee County Public Works.

Butzow said contractor MSB Services will develop a construction schedule soon. He anticipates the temporary signal will be functional within three months, depending on any long-term impacts to the industry related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“At this time, we are not seeing any delays or slowdowns related to the pandemic,” Butzow said.

The temporary signal will cost about $150,000, and the total project, resulting in a permanent signal, will cost $1.49 million.

Butzow said FDOT has indicated it will reimburse the county for costs of the project at a later year. That agreement with FDOT is not in place yet.

Manatee County at-large Commissioner and Chairwoman Betsy Benac said that she had received complaints about the intersection and is happy improvements are being made.

“A lot of people have told me there have been quite a few accidents there,” Benac said. “It should be a safer situation [with the signal].”

District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh agreed the signal was needed.

“I think it’s truly a step in the right direction that we try to keep our roads as safe as possible,” Baugh said of the new signal. “A lot of people have requested a signal there. If you look at the growth we’re seeing, so much of it is north of S.R. 70. There’s a lot more traffic coming out of White Eagle than ever before. It’s definitely needed.”

Baugh noted more safety improvements are coming to S.R. 70, particularly east of Lorraine Road. FDOT plans to signalize the intersection with Post Boulevard and add roundabouts at select intersections to Country Road 675.

The four-lane White Eagle Boulevard, which runs from just south of S.R. 64 to S.R. 70, opened in first quarter 2017. FDOT is constructing a roundabout at S.R. 64 at White Eagle Boulevard/Rye Road. After that is completed this year, drivers from Rye Road will be able to take White Eagle south to S.R. 70.

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