Major East County road projects to progress in 2024

Major East County road projects to progress in 2024

State Road 70 and Lena Road will be undergoing major transformations.

Seven roundabouts will be installed on State Road 70.
Seven roundabouts will be installed on State Road 70.
Commissioner Jason Bearden said the current Manatee County Commission will eventually be known for building roads.
  • “We’ve all been here for three years or less, so a lot of these issues with our infrastructure are because of former boards, but our board, our No. 1 priority is roads,” he said. “Myself, Mike Rahn and Amanda Ballard, who just came on the board, have already secured over $20 million dollars at the state level for our roads.” 
  • Not only is Bearden an at-large commissioner, but he’s also a Lakewood Ranch resident, so he sits in traffic, too. Among the projects he mentioned are Fort Hamer Bridge and the 44th Avenue East extension, but there are some other major road projects in East County that should be seeing major progress in 2024, too.

State Road 70

“I had been trying to get the Florida Department of Transportation to four-lane S.R. 70 all the way across the state. What they did was set up three different phases of S.R. 70 in Manatee County, and they were trying to get the funding to arrange for it,” former District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said. “My last Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting, the Department of Transportation secretary announced that it was totally funded.” 

Baugh wanted roundabouts to slow drivers down while creating a viable evacuation route for hurricanes. The estimated cost for the project is $121 million, with $49 million coming from the Moving Florida Forward initiative.

FDOT will install seven roundabouts between Lorraine Road and C.R. 675. The work will be done in two phases. The first phase is from Lorraine Road to Bournside Boulevard, and the second phase is from Bourneside Boulevard to C.R. 675. 

According to Patricia Pichette, a communications specialist FDOT, both projects are still being designed, but the first phase is 90% complete. 

“The right-of-way acquisition has cleared. As far as construction, we are anticipating some early work (pond construction and clearing) to begin by early 2024,” she said. 

Designs and right-of-way acquisition for the second phase are expected to be complete by February, and construction is slated to begin in the second half of 2024. 

Moving west on the thoroughfare, FDOT made a recommendation to install temporary delineators at 66th Street East, 24th Street East and 18th Street East. 

“FDOT has coordinated with Braden River High School, and we are planning installation during the school’s spring break,” Pichette said. 

“These delineators will bring short term safety improvements to the corridor while we await the longer-term improvements in a future project. This is a part of FDOT’s efforts to be proactive in bringing safety improvements to these priority corridors as soon as possible while seeking funding for a more permanent solution.”

FDOT found that on the portion of S.R. 70 between 15th Street East and 87th Street East, there were 12 fatalities and 257 serious injury crashes from 2015 through 2021. Due to those crashes, Pichette said there has been an ongoing study to identify safety improvements along the corridor.

Lena Road

The plan for Lena Road is to extend it to connect S.R. 70 and S.R. 64. The estimated cost is about $12 million. 

The project will widen the road from 44th Avenue East to S.R. 64. It’ll still be two lanes, but there will be an 18-foot median in the middle, plus a shared use path for cyclists on the west side and a sidewalk for pedestrians on the east side. A roundabout is planned for the intersection at Bower Drive. 

The project has been separated into two contracts: south of the roundabout at 44th Avenue East and north of it.

“The section from the 44th Avenue East roundabout to the south to the existing deadend of Lena will be constructed by the 44th Avenue East vendor. That contractor has been selected and awarded three of the six anticipated project scopes,” Public Works Director Chad Butzow said. “The total project contract time has started and is scheduled for completion for April 2026.”

With an estimate of two years to complete, construction should begin sometime around April. 

The second contract that runs north of the roundabout has not been awarded yet. Butzow said they anticipate awarding that contract over the summer.

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