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March Madness grips Island

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

The effects of spring break for area students last week, coupled with normal winter visitor traffic to Anna Maria Island and good weather, resulted in this traffic congestion at the Manatee Avenue-Gulf Drive intersection, and beachgoer vehicles parked along Manatee Avenue. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Anna Maria Island had its own version of March Madness last week as many area students were on spring break and headed by car, van and SUV to the Island for some fun in the sun.

Families with younger kids out of school also flocked to AMI to visit the beaches and other family members.

With exceptional weather and the usual winter visitor traffic already peaking on the Island, Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine said a few motorists became irate in traffic jams and called the HBPD demanding something be done to relieve traffic congestion.

“Area spring break is always the worst time of the year driving on the Island if the weather is nice. Last week was pretty much a matter of having more cars than the roads can handle,” Romine said.

He had two officers manually controlling traffic signals at both the East Bay Drive-Manatee Avenue intersection, and at the East Bay-Gulf Drive intersection to allow more time for vehicles exiting the Island.

“That seemed to help,” said Romine, adding that officers will be particularly alert for any recurrence of traffic volume. Once area spring break students return to school, Romine said, traffic levels on the Island will be back to that of a normal winter season.

“It’s the price we have to pay at this time of the year, and people really need to understand it doesn’t help to call in and scream at our dispatcher because they are stuck in a traffic jam,” Romine said.

He asked all motorists to exercise patience with other motorists, and particularly with law enforcement.

“They are just doing their job and don’t deserve the abuse from frustrated drivers,” he said.

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