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Date of Issue: November 16, 2006

Automated message signs due September 2007

Long-awaited automated message signs may be placed on the Island as early as next September.

"The project is scheduled to commence in early 2007," Michael P. Howe, executive director of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, said of the signs, known as the Advanced Traveler Information System.

"We are currently in the design phase," said Vincent Canna, Manatee County's project manager.

ATIS is budgeted at $863,268, with $483,616 from the state and the county paying the rest, according to Canna.

A major purpose of the project is to assist in an Island evacuation in an emergency, specifically a hurricane. But the signs can also be used to notify motorists of road hazards, traffic tie-ups and parking problems or to broadcast attractions and events.

Traffic Control Devices based in Altamonte Springs was contracted to design and build the system, which includes three signs along Gulf Drive between Manatee Avenue in Holmes Beach and the bridge to Longboat Key in Bradenton Beach. There would also be signs on Manatee Avenue at 75th Street in Bradenton and on Cortez Road.

"The design and specs are about 95 percent complete," TCD's Michael Pagnotti said in a project update notice to county officials.

A timetable for the project shows construction beginning in early 2007.

Construction is scheduled to be complete by September 2007, according to TCD's Michael Pagnotti.

"Conditional acceptance is slated to be in August 2007 and final acceptance 30 days later," he said.

Canna added that the Florida Department of Transportation will review and sign off on further plans.