BRADENTON BEACH – Manatee County’s force main sewer pipe replacement project is going to soon impact residents and business owners south of the Cortez Bridge.
Bradenton Beach officials hope to avoid the delays, disturbances and inconveniences that plagued Avenue C property owners for nearly two years while similar work took place at the north end of the city.
City Engineer Lynn Burnett presented the county’s plans to city commissioners on Thursday, July 18, and commissioners unanimously directed Burnett and city staff to approve the county plans as presented and discussed that night.
Burnett said the county project will impact property owners on Fifth Street South, Sixth Street South, Gulf Drive, Bay Drive South and Church Street North.
Burnett and Mayor John Chappie clarified the term force main applies to sewage pipes, but not to water pipes.
“It’s not going to be fun as far as what they’re going to be doing to our streets and neighborhood in the CRA area,” Chappie said.
He was referencing the Community Redevelopment Agency district that extends from the Cortez Bridge to Fifth Street South.
“We all know what it looks like when the county comes in and does a complete end of service life main replacement. We lived with that for a good couple years on Avenue C,” Burnett said.
Burnett said the Harris McBurney Company won the construction bid for this portion of the county project. The company recently completed similar work in Holmes Beach.
“They did a good job, they were very conscientious, they worked well with the neighbors,” Burnett said.
Westra Construction did the force main work along Avenue C.
Burnett said the county’s design documents and contract with Harris McBurney for the Bradenton Beach project also include a county project near Bayfront Park in Anna Maria and a county project along Marina Drive in Holmes Beach.
Burnett said the three-project documents list a project timetable of 227 days, which is seven and a half months.
Burnett expects the county projects to get underway within the next 30 to 60 days but she did not know last week when the work would begin in Bradenton Beach. She expects the Bradenton Beach project to take more than two months once started.
Chappie and Vice Mayor Spooner emphasized the need to begin as soon as possible to avoid working into the tourist season that begins to peak in February.
“Get it over with as quickly as possible and be done with it. Don’t end up down here in the middle of tourist season,” Chappie said.
Spooner said September through January would be the best time to do the work.
“That’s our slowest time,” he said.
“The bottom line is it needs to be done before we get into season,” Chappie reiterated.
Burnett said the work will begin near the lift station along Bay Drive South and the properties along the north side of Sixth Street South will be the first impacted. This work will require a 14-foot deep, open-cut trench along the north side of the street and will displace half of the travel lane for most of the street.
Burnett said an open cut trench will also be dug down the center of Fifth Street South. She said access to all properties will be maintained, but some mailboxes and landscaping may need to be moved.
Chappie suggested the county block off a portion of the nearby Cortez Beach parking area to serve as a parking area for construction employees and a staging area for equipment and materials.
Chappie wants to ensure that the shoreline mangroves at the east end of Fifth Street South be kept as healthy as possible. He also noted there will be water removal pumps running around the clock for four or five days in a row and this could create some noise issues.
The project will push north with an open cut trench along Bay Drive South, where Burnett said it could temporarily impact business operations at and near the Bridge Tender Inn.
The project will then continue with an open cut trench north along Church Street North and proceed and stop just short of First Street North.
Directional boring will then be used to run the sewer pipe under the concrete surface at the Bradenton Beach Marina and connect it to an existing lift station near the Cortez Bridge.
City Attorney Ricinda Perry stressed the need for the county to notify all impacted property owners in advance. She also stressed that this is a county project that the city has no control over.