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Date of Issue: June 28, 2007

Longboat study: Bradenton Beach roundabout creates traffic congestion

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The culprit
A traffic study done for Longboat Key blames the Bradenton Beach roundabout, particularly during the winter season, for much of the traffic congestion in the area on Gulf Drive. Islander Photo: Courtesy of CUTR

A just-completed study of traffic congestion on the barrier islands in Sarasota and Manatee County claims that the “northbound capacity of the mini-roundabout” at Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach needs to be increased to alleviate a growing traffic problem.

Longboat Key town commissioners presented the results of the $35,000 study commissioned by the town from the University of South Florida Center for Urban Transportation Research at the June 20 Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials meeting.

The CUTR study encompassed traffic patterns from Bradenton Beach to St. Armands Circle and offered potential solutions to each identified problem.

The Bradenton Beach roundabout is apparently a guilty culprit for traffic back-up on Gulf Drive, particularly during the winter tourist season, the study indicated.

One solution, according to the study, is to add an additional lane from just south of the roundabout on the east side of Gulf Drive to the Cortez Road-Gulf Drive intersection and make the lane only for right turns onto Cortez Bridge. Another suggestion is to remove the roundabout completely and operate the Gulf Drive-Bridge Street intersection as a two-way stop sign. A traffic signal “is not warranted,” the study said.

Vehicles enroute from Longboat Key to the mainland driving north on State Road 789 (Gulf Drive) through Bradenton Beach can be slowed by up to four minutes because of congestion caused by the roundabout, especially during the winter season, the study alleges.

The studyalso identified the 20-minute intervals to raise the Cortez Bridge as a cause of traffic congestion, but noted the U.S. Coast Guard has now changed the times to raise the drawbridge to 30-minute intervals, and this should reduce congestion, the study noted.

The congestion found at the roundabout and at the Cortez Road-Gulf Drive intersection, along with a traffic problem identified at St. Armands Circle, “significantly affects the quality of travel for residents and tourists between the barrier islands and mainland.”

Bradenton Beach City Commissioner Bill Shearon, who was the only Bradenton Beach representative at the meeting, said he would ensure that the study is placed on an upcoming city commission agenda, but declined comment until he’d had time to review the study in depth.

A copy of the study can be found at Longboat Key’s Web site, which is www.longboatkey.org.