Missing bollards mystery stumps scenic highway management

Palma Sola Causeway missing bollards
Bollards continue to disappear from the south side of the Palma Sola Causeway. - Kristin Swain | Sun

MANATEE COUNTY – The mystery of the missing bollards on the Manatee Avenue causeway continues to haunt county law enforcement and members of the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity.

For the past several months, members of the scenic highway group have noticed several bollards being removed on the south side of Manatee Avenue along the Palma Sola Causeway. Co-Chair Ingrid McClellan said she’s found several of the missing bollards floating in the water along the shoreline after they’ve been removed and tossed into the waves. Now McClellan and the other scenic highway members are banding together with law enforcement to find the culprit.

Palma Sola Causeway bollards trailer
A photo taken along the Palma Sola Scenic Highway shows a small watercraft trailer being driven through where bollards were removed to retrieve an ultralight aircraft. – Submitted | Ingrid McClellan/Joshua Linney

While people have been observed using the newly-cleared space where bollards used to be as a makeshift small craft launch, information is still sought to show the bollards actively being removed. The area is patrolled primarily by the Bradenton Police Department along with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

In the meantime, Manatee County Property Management and Public Works employees have come up with a harder-to-remove barrier to keep watercraft launches along the causeway limited to designated areas. In places where bollard removal is common, the wooden pieces have been replaced with trash cans. The cans are encased in a concrete base that is set several inches into the sand to discourage would-be vandals from removing them.

Palma Sola Causeway bollards trash can
In some places where bollards continue to go missing, Manatee County employees are replacing the missing wooden pieces with trash cans with cement bases. – Kristin Swain | Sun

At McClellan’s request, a new tactic is being used to keep bollards in the ground once installed. County workers are installing rebar along the bottom of the wooden bollards, buried under the sand so that it will be more difficult, if not impossible for vandals to remove the bollards. This new approach is being taken as bollards are replaced along the Palma Sola Causeway.

McClellan said she hopes the vandal is stopped soon to help prevent more work for county employees along with eliminating the additional costs to replace bollards.

Anyone with photos or videos of the bollards being removed is asked to please share the information with The Sun or McClellan at [email protected]