Holmes Beach police chief, commissioner question DOT study

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Frank Domingo, barrier island traffic study project manager, spent two hours Dec. 5 discussing the study at a Florida Department of Transportation public hearing on Longboat Key. Holmes Beach Commissioner Judy Titsworth studies a map in the background. Islander Photo: Terry O’Connor

A lot of questions were asked. Answers were less plentiful.

Nearly 100 people attended a public workshop Dec. 5 on Longboat Key on the barrier island traffic study conducted by the Florida Department of Transportation.

“They’ve done a really good job of brainstorming ideas,” said Holmes Beach Commissioner Jim Kihm. “Now they need to decide what could work, what will work and what won’t work.”

Kihm said one idea won’t fly, at least at his church. St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach, is not receptive to renting church parking spaces to the city during off hours, Kihm said.

Roundabouts are another idea receiving a mixed reception. Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said some roundabouts suggested by the DOT would help, but others are unnecessary.

The DOT study suggested roundabouts could improve traffic flow at East Bay Drive-Gulf Drive, Gulf Drive-Marina Drive, Palm Drive-Marina Drive at Key Royale Drive-66th Street and Gulf Drive-52nd Street.

Roundabouts would not improve traffic flow at Gulf Drive-52nd Street or East Bay Drive-Gulf Drive intersections, Tokajer said.

Frank Domingo, of Stantec Consulting Services Inc., Sarasota, is collecting the traffic study data for the DOT. He said not all ideas to surface during the brainstorming phase will become recommendations.

One example is the idea of stretching a $30 million aerial tramline from Sarasota across Sarasota Bay to Bird Key and St. Armands Circle.

“It’s clearly way out of the box,” Domingo said. “It takes pubic acceptance for that. But, we do have a beautiful view.”

DOT staff members answered questions and displays were used to illustrate many of the 64 study suggestions for improving traffic flow along island and mainland arteries.

The DOT gave a one-week notice which precluded a notice to Islander readers before conducting the workshop at the Longboat Island Chapel, 6200 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key.

Recommendations will be made in the final phase of the study, which should be finished by September 2018, according to Domingo.

Funding will be identified if any DOT recommendations are adopted as priority items by the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The study also has been on the radar of the Island Transportation Planning Organization, which consists of the three island mayors. The ITPO operates under the MPO umbrella to consult on transportation issues.

The study will be presented to the MPO at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 18, at the Holiday Inn-Sarasota Airport, 8009 15th St. E., Sarasota.

Barrier island traffic study at a glance

Study zones: Anna Maria and Holmes Beach, Zone 1; Bradenton Beach, Zone 2; and Longboat Key, St. Armands Circle and Lido Key, Zone 3.

Florida Department of Transportation personnel: Project manager Tanya King, 863-519-2509 or tanya.king@dot.state.fl.us; and assistant project manager Nathan Kautz, 863-519-2347 or nathan.kautz@dot.state.fl.us.

Cost: $675,000.

Project scope: Evaluate island travel patterns, origins and destination points, transit service, parking and bike-pedestrian needs, land development codes related to parking, alternate modes of transportation and intersections.

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