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New Manatee River bridge span at Fort Hamer is Manatee County’s top priority for federal funds

Commissioners prioritize infrastructure, trail system for federal funds

As Manatee County commissioners set their federal funding priorities during a March 8 special meeting and workshop, their focus was infrastructure and bringing the county’s trail system to fruition.

Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker said that while prioritization of the projects would not normally have been requested of the commission until April, a message from the appropriations chair, Texas Rep. Kay Granger, said such project reports would be due March 13.

The commission created a list of its top three projects which included — in order of highest to lowest priority — building an additional bridge at Fort Hamer, flood mitigation in the Pearce Drain watershed and building the county’s trail system, which the commission split into two distinct segments for which they would seek funding.

Hunsicker said commissioners’ priorities will be relayed to the Appropriations Committee by Rep. Vern Buchanan. He said federal funding for each of the projects is capped at $3 million, with a limit of 15 projects for the county.

Hunsicker also said Congress has reintroduced “for lack of a better term” earmarks for some agencies, with fairly strict limitations on what projects would be eligible.