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Town to hear GMD pedestrian plan

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Longboat Key town commissioners will consider at the July 1 regular meeting recommendations by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) on how Gulf of Mexico Drive could best be improved for safety, walkability, and possible changes in the amount of lighting.

The main recommendations FDOT will present are:

• consider installing sidewalks where they are missing or are discontinuous

• installation of mid-block pedestrian crossings

• improved lighting levels

• improving bus stop design, consistency and signage

The study and recommendations were made as a result of a request from town commissioners who previously complained of excessive signage as well as inconsistent or lack of lighting in some stretches of the ten-mile road, which spans the length of Longboat Key.

One of the base considerations in the report, conducted by HNTB Corporation based in Kansas City, Missouri, is the amount of average daily traffic on Gulf of Mexico Drive. The FDOT reports that from the section of Gulf of Mexico Drive from Key Club Road on the southern end to Harbourside Drive is reported to have 11,800 average daily trips. The traffic statistics then show from Harbourside Drive to the Manatee County line has an average daily count of 8,600. The section studied from the Manatee line north to Binnacle Point Drive is reported to have less traffic at 7,500 average daily trips. In rating how the road is performing traffic wise, the southern most section receives a level of service rating of ‘C,’ while the two sections to the north with less traffic, enjoy a level of service rating of ‘B.’

 

Crash data

According to collision data, there have been 13 pedestrian and/or bicycle collisions recorded on GMD between the data period of Jan. 2008 and Dec. 2012. Two of the crashes involved pedestrians and 11 involved bicycles. Of these crashes, 12 (92 percent) resulted in personal injury and one (eight percent) resulted in a fatality, the fatality occurred at the entrance to the Islander Club. The report states that the majority of crashes occurred at in the vicinity of intersections that have no traffic signals. Only two of the crashes occurred at night. The majority of the 13 collisions with bikes and pedestrians listed the contributing cause of the incident as a failure to yield. Only two of the 13 incidents, including the one fatality, did not fault the driver for the accident.

 

Crosswalk recommendations

One of the conclusions of the report is that due to high pedestrian demand, a crosswalk is recommended north of Monroe Street, which is located just north of the Diplomat condominium. For the same reason, a pedestrian crosswalk is also recommended at least 275 feet south or 250 north of Bayport Way, which is located near the mid-key trailer parks. FDOT also recommends another crosswalk between Club Longboat and Seagrape Inn. Other recommended crosswalk locations include: between Banyan Bay and Centre Shoppes as well as between Spanish Drive and Binnacle Point Drive.

 

Light up the roadway

FDOT indicated that of the five areas it studied regarding lighting levels on Gulf of Mexico Drive, most failed to meet FDOT’s recommended amount of foot-candle luminosity. FDOT recommended adding lights to areas where crosswalks may be added, as well as along areas of a proposed new sidewalk. These lighting levels are recommendations, not mandates, and it will be up to the commission to decide if it wants to remain a low-light impact community or if it wishes to increase night-time visibility for pedestrians.

The commission about three years ago sought to remove additional bus and FDOT signage from Gulf of Mexico Drive, but the FDOT report recommends installing five foot by eight foot lit concrete boarding areas at all SCAT and MCAT bus stop locations on the key. They also recommend installing informational posters at bus stop locations, in addition to the already existing bus signs. They also recommended reconstructing the driveways in front of the BP Gas Station to consolidate access and add a sidewalk. As for signs that could be removed, they did find a “tractor crossing” sign that they said the town might want to consider removing. If the town were to install the five recommended crosswalks, associated curb ramps, lighting, and pedestrian crossing signs would have to be added.

Residents who are either concerned about pedestrian safety or a need for more lighting are encouraged to attend the regular Monday night commission meeting on July 1 at 7 p.m. Also, those who wish to see less signage and control the intrusion of signage and additional lighting are also encouraged to attend or write the commission.

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1 Response for “Town to hear GMD pedestrian plan”

  1. Larry Simonds says:

    I would also hope that they will discuss having the buses make their stops on GMD as far to the right side of the road as possible. They now stop on the roadway which backs up traffic unnecessarily especially during season, and causes traffic backups.

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