BRADENTON BEACH – Manatee County’s sewer rehabilitation project will begin soon along the west side of Gulf Drive South. The county project is expected to impact traffic and parking along Gulf Drive South and the adjacent side streets for the next year and a half to two years.
On Jan. 12, several Manatee County staff members and Woodruff & Sons construction firm employees participated in a public information meeting at Bradenton Beach City Hall that was attended by more than 50 people. In that informal setting, county and construction company representatives explained the project and answered questions posed by attendees. Project maps and illustrations were also displayed.
Ogden Clark serves as strategic affairs manager for Manatee County’s Public Works Department. He said the mobilization of equipment and materials will begin this week and the work is expected to start the following week.
“We realize this project is going to affect businesses, rental companies, residents and visitors, but there’s a definite benefit to the project that will improve the county sewer system that’s out here today,” Clark said.
Funded by utility rate revenues and debt service, the $8.1 million project has an estimated September 2024 completion date. Clark said the two-year project was going to require peak season work no matter when it started and the materials and the contractor are available now.
Woodruff & Sons employee Chad Wakeman said, “We’re trying to minimize the impacts on Gulf Drive. We’ll do the main line first, which will not really affect Gulf Drive. When we come across Gulf Drive (into the side streets), we’ll do the bypass into the Cortez Beach parking lot so we’ll have two lanes of traffic going at all times.”
Woodruff and Sons will not be working nights and weekends and the multi-use trail on the west side of Gulf Drive South and the bike lane along the east side of the road will remain open.
Woodruff & Sons’ Matt Anderson said the first phase of work will occur along Gulf Drive, from Sixth Street South to 10th Street South. Those four blocks of the Cortez Beach parking lot will be closed and remain closed for approximately four months. As the project progresses south, the parking lot closures will shift accordingly and the parking areas where the work has been completed will reopen. Anderson said approximately 100 Cortez Beach parking spaces will be closed at any given time.
He said 12th Street South will be the first side street to be closed to vehicular traffic and he expects that to happen in July.
“For 4 to 6 weeks, you’re not going to have vehicular access to those properties,” Anderson said of the side street closures that will force residents, visitors and rental guests to park in designated parking areas across the street at Cortez Beach while the work takes place.
Clark said the county hopes to provide at least a month’s notice before a side street is closed to vehicular traffic.
Anderson said inaccurate utility line surveys often present unforeseen challenges.
“Everything’s subject to change. We could blow through this and have nothing go wrong or we could get out here and have all kinds of problems. We’re going to hit a water line. We’re going to take out a phone line. I guarantee it,” he said.
One attendee noted the city recently undergrounded the utility lines along Gulf Drive South and several of the same side streets to be impacted by the sewer project.
“They have to mark it and we have to work around it, “Anderson said.
Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie said he appreciates the county’s outreach efforts that will also include reaching out to impacted residents, vacation rental owners and property management companies.
“Everybody needs to know what’s going on and prepare for it. It’s not going to be fun; it’s not going to be pretty; but infrastructure needs to be replaced. This stuff’s more than 50 years old,” Chappie said.
Clark advises residents, property owners, business owners and visitors to frequently check the project website and to also sign up for email updates.
“We’ll do our best to keep you informed,” Clark said.