Traffic flows through the S curve in Bradenton Beach on Gulf Drive around to 12th Street South where safety concerns have been noted by city commissioners for some time. Islander Photo: Mark Young
At a March 19 Bradenton Beach department head meeting, Commissioner Jan Vosburgh called for action on the city’s long-time safety concerns at the S curve on Gulf Drive near 12th Street South.
Vosburgh said she is working with the Florida Department of Transportation to attain a caution light at the blind spot in the middle of the S curve.
There are currently two caution lights before entering the S curve, but they are set back several dozen feet along with posted yellow 25-mph signs.
Commissioners have fielded multiple complaints about speeding through the S curve and several near misses have been reported of pedestrians attempting to cross Gulf Drive near the portion of the S curve on 12th Street.
Vosburgh said there is some interest from DOT, but that no substantial progress has been made to garner a commitment for action.
Police Chief Sam Speciale said his units often run radar near the S curve, and already has planned more radar time for his patrol units.
“The problem is that people think they can just walk into the street and cars have to yield,” said Speciale.
Vosburgh said the blind spot is dangerous, “and someone is going to get killed there.”
Speciale said DOT is considering a speed change on Gulf Drive beginning immediately off the exit of the Cortez Bridge.
The current speed is 45 mph all the way to the S curve, “and people aren’t slowing down to 25 by the time they get there,” he said.
“We want to get them to go from 45, to 35, to 25,” he said.
Vosburgh said she’s heard the same discussion from DOT and feels that may be the direction they are moving but, in the meantime, she would like the city to do what it can to prevent a potential tragedy.
Commissioner Ric Gatehouse said the problem exists because the island plays host to people from other states.
“People come down from up north and, in their states, pedestrians have the right of way at all times,” he said. “It’s not that way here in Florida.”
Mayor John Shaughnessy said the responsibility is with drivers and pedestrians, but especially pedestrians since they would be on the losing end of a crash.
“Pedestrians have to be alert, too,” he said. “We put a sidewalk in and people are still walking on the road. We have crosswalks that people don’t use. They cross the street without even looking both ways.”
Speciale reaffirmed that he would step up radar patrols in the area of the S curve to ensure traffic slows down. He previously indicated he would park an empty decoy car in the area in hopes to slow people down.