Tara Bridge on the Backburner, But Debate Lingers


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, August 5th, 2016 – The long-proposed bridge across Braden River which would connect Tara Boulevard with Honore Avenue has been excluded from the 5-year Capital Improvement Program of Manatee presented to county commissioners in June 2016. But while this span won’t be built anytime soon, expect continuing debate ahead as local residents are divided on this project which is part of the county’s Comprehensive Plan created in 1989.

There is a faction of local homeowners advocating construction of the bridge mothballed for some 25 years, while another group is against building the span. The latter’s main argument against this bridge is that it would be out of place in their locality noted for some prime choices of Bradenton homes for sale.

All about Traffic

Tara Bridge on the Backburner, But Debate Lingers

It would adversely affect local property values and aggravate traffic congestion near the Mall at University Town Center, contends this group consisting mostly of Tara Golf & Country Club residents. They worry too that having Tara Boulevard, the main public road through the community of River Place, as a throughway to punch through the bridge onward to Honore will profoundly increase non-local traffic including large trucks passing their area.

But here’s the thing. A significant number of local residents are also supportive of the project, including a Facebook group called “Build Tara Bridge Now” consisting of some 650 members. They point out that this span is part of a north‒south link into Sarasota designed to help ease traffic congestion in Southern Manatee.

Question on Priorities

These Tara bridge advocates also stressed that it has been more than 25 years since this north‒south connector was planned. They noted as well that Sarasota County has delivered its part of the bargain for this project and now Manatee should do the same.

Manatee has already entered into a $2-million settlement with developer Pat Neal for the county’s acquisition of right of away on the south side of the river. However, the Tara project has been repeatedly pushed down the priority list, with other connectors taking precedence. Amongst those prioritized in recent years was the east‒west 44th Avenue East extension which also calls for building two spans—one likewise across the Braden River and the other an overpass over Interstate 75.

Homeowners pushing the bridge construction appear getting frustrated that the Tara project has been routinely being left out in favor of other developments. With the span built, they are looking forward to more convenient access southward via Honore Avenue.

As it is, their present route to the University Parkway area and its amenities, like the Mall at UTC, is rather circuitous. Driving to this area now means a northward trip passing the traffic-prone Tara Boulevard-SR 70 junction then to Interstate 75 for the southward leg to University Parkway.

County Commitment Remains

The possibility of having a shorter southward route from Tara Boulevard to Honore Avenue still looks a pivotal factor for purchases of Bradenton homes for sale in the area, even with its exclusion from the county’s current priority plan. Government authorities said the county remains committed to the project and that it may finally proceed once funding becomes available.

Though contentious, the Tara bridge construction has also been long considered as a possibility by many long-time homeowners in the area. This is particularly so at River Place wherein the Homeowners’ Association Document Book specifically cites that there may be an extension of the community’s main public road, Tara Boulevard, including a bridge over Braden River.