There’s no way around it.
Roundabouts will be island traffic features for years to come, according to a top state transportation official and island officials.
Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie said roundabouts are irreplaceable traffic safety features at the June 4 meeting in Holmes Beach of the Island Transportation Planning Organization.
Chappie’s comments came after Longboat Key Mayor George Spoll called for removal of a Bradenton Beach roundabout at the May 16 meeting of the Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials.
Spoll said the “intolerable” roundabout at the intersection of Gulf Drive and Bridge Street bogs down island traffic flow and is “an abomination in the eyes of the town of Longboat Key.”
Chappie said the roundabout has separated pedestrians from traffic as intended and enhanced safety.
Chappie said he has the support of L.K. Nandam, District 1 secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation.
“I did have a little conversation with L.K. Nandam after our, um, last collision at the barrier island elected officials meeting,” Chappie said. “He actually called me. I was surprised.”
Chappie said he and Nandam discussed ways the Bradenton Beach roundabout traffic flow and aesthetics could improve.
“I just want to reassure everybody that FDOT has no plans whatsoever to eliminate the roundabout and, if they did, they would, of course, talk to the city of Bradenton Beach first and foremost,” he said.
Chappie said Nandam suggested adding landscaping, lighting and enhancing safety features for the Bridge Street roundabout.
“Hopefully that can be done on the short list,” Chappie said.
The ITPO is lobbying the DOT on a number of fronts, including work on the two bridges connecting Anna Maria Island to the mainland.
Other project requests include a roundabout at Marina and Gulf drives and extended northbound turn lanes for westbound Manatee Avenue on Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach and for northbound motorists on Gulf Drive at Cortez Road in Bradenton Beach.
The ITPO also wants bicycle-pedestrian safety enhancements along Gulf Drive from 52nd Street northward to Marina Drive in Holmes Beach; and from Longboat Pass Bridge to 13th Street South and Avenue C to 22nd Street North in Bradenton Beach.
Bradenton Beach also is lobbying for increased pedestrian, bicycle and traffic capacity on Gulf Drive from 27th Street North to the Longboat Pass Bridge at the south end of the island.
A roundabout figured prominently in an update on the Anna Maria Island Bridge by project managers Ryan Forrestel of American Consulting Professionals in Wesley Chapel and Roxann Lake of the DOT. The bridge connects Anna Maria Island in Holmes Beach to Perico Island and the mainland.
“We’re looking at a roundabout at State Road 789 (Gulf Drive at the Manatee Public Beach) and State Road 64/Manatee Avenue,” according to Forrestel.
Manatee County intends to expand the parking area at Kingfish Boat Ramp east of the planned roundabout at Manatee and East Bay Drive, Forrestel said. Eastbound left turns coming out of the boat ramp would be eliminated, he said.
“We need to have a roundabout in place at the same time or before the bridge is opened up,” he said, “because of the restrictions we’re going to have on the turn movement coming out of the boat ramp.”
Final plans for the 65-foot-clearance fixed replacement bridge are expected in late 2019, Forrestel said. Construction has not been funded.
The ITPO, comprising the island cities’ three mayors, was formed to advise the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization and DOT on island traffic issues.
Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy, who currently represents the ITPO as the voting member of the MPO board, was absent due to a city meeting at the same time.
The MPO identifies priorities for local transportation projects. Once projects are adopted as MPO priorities, DOT funding is possible.
The MPO will next meet at 9:30 a.m. Monday, June 18, at the Holiday Inn Sarasota-Airport, 8009 15th St. E., Sarasota.
The ITPO will next meet at 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.