Traffic woes

Staff Columnist

I’ve been hearing and reading about local traffic conditions of late.

It seems that the use of local roads around here – in Sarasota and Manatee, mostly Sarasota City and County are truly terrible.  This is an almost annual complaint set; we’ve heard it all before.  That doesn’t make it acceptable.  What I would like to see is local folks adapting a more realistic expectation.

Frankly I think that many of our folks have developed unhealthy attitudes.  We are blessed with a beautiful island home, fine facilities, utilities infrastructure, bridges, beaches, schools, churches.  Positive is the way to go I have learned.

Just for fun a recent weekend (when the bridge repairs opposite the Sarasota Yacht Club were already underway, The Vue project was also underway, medium size dump trucks were hauling sand from an upland source to LBK’s beach via the Colony site.) ( These events I count as atypical, even for our hometown.) I took to the roads to reconnoiter the  actual traffic situation.  One Friday morning after dropping off some papers at a medical office on Arlington Street, I set out for home.  I chose an alternate route having been warned about not being able to negotiate the bridge repair project.  Not even trying to pass that repair effort, I  headed smartly north on Route 41.  This routing moved nicely north to the intersection with Cortez Road.  I moved quickly stopping at nary a light .   Heading west on Cortez Road I made all the green lights as well.

Admittedly this can be a crowded routing – but school was open and few cars were headed for the beach on Anna Maria Island.  We stopped in Cortez   at our favorite breakfast spot (now about1000).  After breakfast we continued across the Bay to Bradenton Beach, then south past Coquina (again few beachgoers) over the Longboat Pass bridge to Longboat Key.  No traffic here at this hour.  South on Gulf of Mexico Drive to The light at Bay Isles Parkway; through the Gate to home.  My estimate was that this routing was totally uneventful.

On the following Saturday I took the next test in my road/traffic analysis.  At noon I headed south – destination the Selby Library in Sarasota.  This journey was also totally hassle-free.  Over the fine “new” bridge, straight through the intersection at Route 41 to Main Street, left (even through a roundabout) to the Library.  Parking lot was nearly full.  I conducted my minimal business, and headed home.  I even had a dog on board for this travel.  I headed north for maybe 4/5 blocks, stopped for fuel at the Sunoco Station there; exited the back of that station , left on Route 41 again heading south.  This heads for the heavily traveled intersection  at The Vue construction.  I was able to turn right there with almost no waiting.  I knew I would next approach the bridge work site.  I had been warned.  I traversed this narrowing route – one lane through the work site.  No Sweat.  We moved smartly towards St. Armond’s Circle.  No delay here either.

Tests complete.  I found only minimal delays, certainly nothing so bad that the entire FDOT organization should be replaced – as suggested by some here both in and out of local  government.

We are, after all, a barrier island community which caters to seasonal demands.  In my opinion (I actually was in the traffic business for a while – many years ago.)  Basically one never designs or builds for the “peak/peak”.  We don’t and have not.  As one who has also spent most of his life on islands, I might offer that people who frequent islands do so because they like them.  Maybe we enjoy the challenges, and learn to live with the minimal difficulties of island living.  Crossing various waterways is the essence of island travel.  Most of us know this.  I guess I would suggest to those who think that FDOT started the bridge repair too soon – maybe one might shorten their season here this year!

Of course practicing that positive attitude a tad more might help also.  Try it!


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