Manatee hopes to address its rapid growth with a record $2.1 billion budget
Nearly one quarter of the funds would go toward road construction.
Manatee County is proposing a record $2.1 billion budget for the coming year, and nearly a quarter of that money is going to road construction to handle rapid growth there.
If current trends continue, Manatee County will grow from just under 400,000 people to 550,000 people in the next 20 years.
District One Commissioner James Satcher said the 2024 budget really starts to address planning for that growth, including building roads to handle all those new people.
"You know, we're adding capacity, we're connecting roads that weren't connected before," Satcher said. "We're taking two-lane roads and making them where they can really work to help give people options on how to get where they want to go."
Although Satcher said there's a lot of road construction in the pipeline — including a reconstruction of the interchange at I-75 and US 301 — there are still some projects left on his wish list.
"I do wish we had a bypass so that people had another choice to go north/south and not have to just go I-75. I wish we had at least one east/west bypass type road as well," Satcher said.
Satcher said the hardest part of planning road construction is the timeline. Approving funding is just the beginning of a long process.
As an example, he cited the 44th Avenue East expansion, which will eventually travel over I-75 to Lakewood Ranch.
"It's tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars," Satcher said. "And we still don't have the bridge over I-75 yet. We have the steel in, so it's coming soon. But it's still a big elephant to chew. So we're trying to take it one bite at a time."