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Date of Issue: June 09, 2005

Still awaiting beach advisory signs

The near decade-long Manatee County project to construct beach advisory signs for motorists heading to Anna Maria Island is "on hold," members of the Bradenton Beach Corridor Management Entity Scenic Highway Committee learned at their May 31 meeting, and not likely to be completed in the near future.

CME member Bob Herrington of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization said he actually began the project with the MPO in 1997. Originally, some 30 signs were considered, but about four years ago, Manatee County decided it could get the changeable signs built cheaper and faster.

"But it's still not done," said Herrington, even though the county now wants to build just five of the advisory signs.

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie said he would talk to Manatee County Administrator Ernie Padgett for a status report on the project.

In other business, Herrington along with Bradenton Beach City Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips gave a report on the Fort Lauderdale water taxi service they visited two weeks ago. Manatee County is considering a water taxi service in several location, including from the Crosley Mansion to the Bradenton Beach City Pier.

Funding for the water taxi will not be a problem, Phillips said. The Fort Lauderdale service is funded by federal grants, and the $5 all-day fare that includes free bus service pays for about half the operational cost. The Fort Lauderdale taxi is run by a private corporation.

Herrington said Manatee County should consider a one-year pilot project with a private provider such as the Fort Lauderdale operator.

"A turnkey operator would come in with boats, licensed captains and know everything about the business," he explained.

The CME also discussed a previously proposed idea to use the parking lot at Coquina Beach as a "park-and-ride" location for employees of many businesses in the city, particularly restaurants such as the BeachHouse.

Chappie said it was discussed with Manatee County - operators of Coquina Beach - several years ago, but he's heard nothing since. He'll ask Padgett for an update.

The committee also agreed to recommend that the city commission retain the engineering firm of Wilson Miller Inc. for a new survey of those areas of Gulf Drive outside of the central redevelopment area.

Once city rights of way and easements are established, the CME can proceed to utilize a $20,000 Florida Department of Transportation grant for a new sign and accompanying landscaping at the north entrance to the city.