Fort Hamer Bridge opens to traffic, connecting Manatee County's fastest growing areas

  • Oct 18, 2017
Image Fort Hamer Bridge opens to traffic, connecting Manatee County's fastest growing areas

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (Oct. 18, 2017) – Local officials hailed the opening of the Fort Hamer Bridge as a historic event for Manatee County and praised the new bridge's benefits to the community during a ribbon cutting event this morning. The bridge was opened to traffic by 11 a.m. today.

"With the creation of Lakewood Ranch and now the booming Parrish area, this bridge became an inevitable part of our history," said County Commission Chairman Betsy Benac. "It connects the two fastest growing areas of our incredibly fast-growing community. It will shorten commutes for Parrish residents who work in Lakewood Ranch, but it also creates a faster link for the young families of Lakewood Ranch to reach the Fort Hamer Rowing Park and boat ramp and one day Hidden Harbor Park."

 

U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan, who assisted during the federal review of the bridge during planning stages, congratulated County Commissioners and Manatee County residents on a "truly beautiful new asset for the community."

 

The bridge creates faster routes for emergency responders, a new evacuation route for East Manatee residents and it will alleviate some traffic on U.S. 301, Interstate 75 and Rye Road.

 

A bridge over the Manatee River was first proposed by the County Commission on September 9, 1909. Due to opposition and funding, the proposal was dropped. It wasn’t until 1989 that another proposal to build the bridge was added to the County’s comprehensive plan.

 

County Commissioners broke ground to begin the project on March 19, 2015. The $32 million project was funded entirely through local dollars and includes the bridge, and improvements to Upper Manatee River Road and Fort Hamer Road.

 

The Fort Hamer Bridge extends nearly one-half mile across the Manatee River and connects Upper Manatee River Road to Fort Hamer Road. It includes 5-foot sidewalks and 4-foot paved bike lanes. The bridge is the longest span to be designed and maintained by Manatee County.

 

Manatee County Public Works Director Ron Schulhofer welcomed a crowd of more than 50 people to the ceremony and began with special remarks for Trudy Gerena, the longtime public information officer for the bridge project. Gerena passed away in a motorcycle accident on Saturday. She was remembered as a kind, warm soul and an invaluable member of the project team.

 

For more information on the bridge, visit www.forthamerbridge.com.

 

For more information on Manatee County Government, visit online at www.mymanatee.org or call (941) 748-4501. You can also follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/manatee.county.fl and on Twitter, @ManateeGov.