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Date of Issue: September 29, 2005

Trolley expansion funding sliced this year

Federal funding to expand the Manatee Trolley system to Longboat Key, Lido and downtown Sarasota is not forthcoming this year.

Florida Department of Transportation transit expert Richard Dreyer said he learned last Friday that any grant funding to expand the system was stricken from the federal transportation plan.

Local officials, urged by Longboat Key, had hoped to expand the wildly popular Island route to points south.

"There's no new money in the federal corridor management program,” Dreyer said. "Actually, there is a shortfall this year."

Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization's Bob Herrington said he hoped to work with local officials to try and locate funding sources to proceed with the trolley expansion.

Not impacted by the funding cuts is a Manatee County Area Transit-DOT project to add four new trolley buses to the Island system to replace those that have been prone to breakdowns. The new buses, which are scheduled to be delivered later this year, will be similar in design to the current vehicles, but will be much quieter and - officials hope - less prone to breakdowns.

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