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Date of Issue: December 21, 2006

County seeks trolley connection to St. Armands

Manatee County is putting the pressure on Sarasota County to allow the Island trolley service to extend all the way from Coquina Beach to St. Armands Circle and back.

Speaking at the Dec. 13 Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials meeting, Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said Sarasota County officials have already begun bus service from St. Armands to Coquina Beach on an hourly basis, but the proposed trolley service would operate every 20 minutes.

The grants awarded to Manatee and Sarasota counties to fund the trolley service are for only one year, at present, and not enough, said Whitmore. Manatee County is trying to get the City of Sarasota to use the estimated $190,000 it has to operate the bus service from St. Armands to Coquina Beach for the trolley.

"They are not 100 percent supportive of this," said Whitmore about the City of Sarasota.

 

Skyway boat ramps

Whitmore also asked BIEO members to go to their respective commissions and ask for a letter of support for the county commission's efforts to build a boat ramp on the Manatee County side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

She said studies have shown that the No. 1 destination of boaters traveling from the Skyway to Manatee County is Egmont Key, and most of those boaters utilize the Kingfish Boat Ramp.

 

Kingfish Boat Ramp

Like it or not, said Whitmore, Manatee County owns the Kingfish Boat Ramp.

In January, the county plans to remove the Brazilian pepper trees at the ramp, beautify the area and improve the portable toilet facility. While the county has no plans to add parking on the south side of Manatee Avenue across from the boat ramp, it already has plans to expand parking on the north side.

 

Veterans monument

The idea of a veterans monument and flagpole near Leffis Key is being discussed again, said Whitmore, and many former opponents of the plan are now in favor of a new location just south of Leffis Key.

The old plan died in 2001 when members of the Audubon Society objected that the proposed location of the flagpole could threaten migrating birds. Veterans in favor of the monument opposed any new location, but have apparently changed their minds.

"It won't be the same exact position," Whitmore said, but very close.

She also noted that the county plans a lifeguard station and boat ramp for the Florida Marine Patrol and the Manatee County Sheriff's Office on the east side of State Road 789 across from Coquina Beach. The proposed veterans monument would be near that facility.

 

Longboat Key traffic study

The Town of Longboat Key will begin a traffic study starting in January that will extend north from the Longboat Pass Bridge to the Cortez Road-Gulf Drive intersection.

The $35,000 study is being done by the University of South Florida Center for Urban Transport and Research, and will take about six months to complete, Longboat Key Mayor Joan Webster said.

The study will focus on the winter season particularly because that's when the traffic problems exist.

Traffic analysts will likely be at the Longboat Pass Bridge studying traffic and asking motorists heading north and south where their drive originated from and where they are headed.

Longboat Key will share its findings with Anna Maria, Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach, Webster said.