Manatee County Government Administrative Center Commission Chambers, First Floor 9:00 a.m. - October 22, 2013
October 22, 2013 - Regular Meeting
Agenda Item #42

Central Manatee Network Alternatives Analysis

Briefing Provided Upon Request

Contact and/or Presenter Information
Clarke Davis
Transportation Planning Division Manager
941.708.7450 x7272

Action Requested
Recommend the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization approve a Transportation Improvement Program Amendment to replace the U.S. 301/U.S.41 Project Development and Environmental Study (PD&E) with the Central Manatee Network Alternatives Analysis

Enabling/Regulating Authority

Background Discussion

In November 2012, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) provided its FY13/14-FY17/18 draft tentative work program to the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and local governments.   In a December 2012 Board of County Commissioners review of the program, staff identified a concern regarding a proposed project for U.S.301/U.S.41.  The project was a new Project Development and Environmental Study (PD&E) for U.S.301/U.S.41 from 13th Avenue in Bradenton to 17th Street in Palmetto.  The concern was the implication of funding a PD&E under current federal interpretation of program requirements.  Broadly, a PD&E carries with it an expectation that subsequent phases of the project will be funded or that some subset of the overall project will be fully funded.  A PD&E becomes a commitment for future funding.   For U.S.301/U.S.41, the PD&E limits include a major crossing of the Manatee River and U.S.301/U.S.41 in a built-up urban environment.  The unstated-but-expected commitment had the potential to be large enough to displace other cost feasible projects.

Staff recommended the Board request the PD&E be replaced with a feasibility extending from U.S.301/U.S.41 at Haben Boulevard to 10th Street then extend east on 10th Street to 24th Avenue East in Palmetto.  The intent was to establish study boundaries to address  greatest concerns of the City of Palmetto and the County, allow local governments to identify projects for further study or implementation, and keep the scale of potential projects manageable.

The Board acted to support the staff position, and the County sent a  December 17, 2012, letter to the MPO with this request.  Subsequently, the MPO Board voted to approve the Board of County Commissioners position of limiting the area as recommended by county staff.  This action was taken leading up to the legislative session, and FDOT staff committed to make the change when the work program was opened for budget amendments at the beginning of the fiscal year (July 1, 2013). 

The issue of “PD&E versus Feasibility Study” has been discussed extensively in the interim at a staff level and at MPO Board meetings.  It has been suggested that state and federal staff would consider alternative processes and requirements if the study area for the PD&E were to be expanded.

As the reasons for limiting the study area were based largely on the written federal requirements for a PD&E study, county staff on numerous occasions requested that we be provided in writing what alternative processes and requirements might apply in this situation so that we could determine if we would support expanding the study area.   As of this date, we have not received such written documentation. 

In an effort to respond to the County and MPO request, FDOT now proposes to replace the PD&E with an “alternatives analysis.” An alternative analysis is sometimes an early planning-like component of a PD&E.  It is in-turn used to identify projects that could be implemented without further PD&E review and the portions that would proceed to PD&E.  Because this approach is actually an early part of a PD&E, it will ultimately carry the same future funding commitment expectations as a PD&E.  However, programming the alternatives analysis as a separate step should better define the scope of additional PD&E and potential future commitments arising from it.

On September 18, 2013, there was a Central Manatee Area Workshop at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.  This was an advertised meeting with Florida Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration representatives present.  Local elected officials and other interested parties attended for a presentation and discussion of the proposed alternatives analysis and federal funding policy.

FDOT has initiated a Work Program and Transportation Improvement Program amendment based on the alternatives analysis approach.   The amendment is a proposal to delete the $5.7 million PD&E and replace it with a “Central Manatee Network Alternatives Analysis” for $3.0 million in FY13/14.    The limits are proposed to be expanded.  East/west, the limits extend from 26th Street West to 27th Street East in Bradenton, and north/south, the limits are from 17th Avenue in Bradenton to 17th Street in Palmetto.  This area is shown on the attached map and is a significant expansion of the original PD&E limits, particularly east/west, where the project was previously focused on U.S.301/U.S.41.

Staff is supportive of the concept of expanding the study area as recommended as part of an Alternative Analysis, but continues to have concerns about the lack of written requirements and processes and the lack of clarity as to the extent to which this process commits us in the funding of future projects.

County Attorney Review
Not Reviewed (No apparent legal issues)

Explanation of Other

Reviewing Attorney

Instructions to Board Records
Please return a copy of the approved agenda item to Clarke Davis, clarke.davis@mymanatee.org, 941.708.7450 x7272

Cost and Funds Source Account Number and Name

Amount and Frequency of Recurring Costs

Attachment:  Cent Manatee Study Area.pdf