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Crosswalk removal plan gets pushback from FDOT

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Crosswalks by definition shuffle people back and forth across an otherwise dangerous roadway. But on Longboat Key, this shuffling has become a metaphor for the back and forth position the town has taken on whether to install, remove, or attempt to improve the series of recently added crosswalks.

At a workshop in mid-April, all seven commissioners reached consensus to remove the crosswalks for reasons varying from their unsafe location, lack of use and primarily the perception of safety by pedestrians that several commissioners felt could ultimately lead to a fatality on Gulf of Mexico Drive.

This Monday night, the commission will hear a presentation by Town Manager Dave Bullock and will either continue in its direction to remove the crosswalks by voting on the issue and instructing Bullock to pursue such a measure, or opting to give the Florida Department of Transportation a chance to make them safer.

Bullock and Mayor Jack Duncan met with FDOT District Secretary Bill Hattaway and FDOT Engineer L.K. Nandam.

According to Duncan, the FDOT officials said that the crosswalk installation was a process and an evolution and there would be modifications as time went on.

“FDOT was very concerned with the crosswalks as death trap rhetoric and think we are a little over the top,” said Duncan.

Duncan said he told the FDOT officials that the commission’s number one priority is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Longboat Key.

“The question to me,” said Duncan, “is if I am in a crosswalk, am I safe?”

Duncan said that Hattaway witnessed traffic violations in that drivers went through the crosswalks when the lights were flashing as well as pedestrians not pushing the light buttons and not using the crosswalks properly.

The bottom line of the FDOT meeting said Duncan is that the FDOT does not want to pull the crosswalks until it is proven that they are not working. He did say that the agency is open to the idea of relocating ones that may not be in the most effective locations.

Bullock told Longboat Key News that he expects some public comment on the issue at Monday night’s meeting, which begins at 7 p.m.

It was Bullock who suggested to the commission after the consensus to remove the crosswalks, that the issue being noticed so public could comment and a formal decision can be made.

In preparation for the meeting, Bullock created a Powerpoint that explained the evolution and chronology of events that lead to the crosswalk installation. This chronology shows that the town commission requested a pedestrian and bicycle safety study in 2012. That prompted pedestrian crossing data as well as traffic counts in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, the commission was told that the crosswalks could be justified in a handful of locations. In January of 2016, the crosswalks were installed. In February of 2016, a pedestrian was struck in the crosswalk at the Country Club Shores location. Increased signage followed that event, and the prospect of an additional crosswalk at North Shore Road near the New Pass Bridge prompted the commission to decide at its last meeting to ask FDOT to remove them all. That chronology brings us to where we are today.

Duncan said that he believes the FDOT may be willing to add red lights to further alert motorists at the crosswalks when pedestrians are present.

In short, Bullock will be seeking direction Monday night in the form of either removing the crosswalks, or allowing FDOT to continue their effort to increase their safety.

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Longboat Key News

6 Responses for “Crosswalk removal plan gets pushback from FDOT”

  1. Dan Screet says:

    David:

    If this had been the first article with false so called “facts” it would be another thing all together but to have multiple “opinion” pieces posted as “fact” is another. Then it gets to a point that there is more of an issue that just bad reporting, it becomes the liberal media mentality of feeding those uneducated on a subject information they want them to believe to back their opinion so they can get their way. If it was marked as a fictional piece, it was well written.

    The real interesting item is you jumped in to only attack me but offer nothing but a half-hearted personal attack with no facts to dispel/ disagree with what I had stated. Chalk that up to someone that just had to add their 2 cent attack for no real reason. (and since you like name calling, now who’s Einstein?)
    All I can guess is you are having a bad day, sorry you about your bad day. No need to attack someone for it without reason. I certainly hope your day gets better.

  2. David Baughman says:

    Dan,
    interesting that you find it necessary to insult people who don’t believe the same as you do.
    Brain cells are necessary in order to make logical comments, lack of brain cells often results in name calling. Sticks and Stones Einstein.
    I find it to be liberals who justify their demands by calling on their supposed superiority and fake love of their fellow man in order to get their way and push their agenda on others.
    You are much too obvious to be taken seriously by any brain celled opponent. Your comments in totality are limited in scope and wouldn’t get a passing grade in a high school debate.

  3. Dan Screet says:

    Thank you Cathie and Barry, it is a breath of fresh air to know some people still use brain cells. Both of you have very good points.

    David, I am sorry that your lack of Traffic Engineering experience leads you to make such ignorant statements. As an example: “reducing the speed limit is a noble but unnsupportable idea. all it will produce is more traffic tickets and minimal safety improvement. just add impatience to the psyche of motorists and it will be a safer environment?”

    Reducing the speed limit is supportable and justifiable, if you look at what Cathie stated regarding “Walkable communities” they are also sustainable communities. Why live near the beach and beauty if you are to only fly by at high speeds in a vehicle? Isn’t enjoying the outdoors, and exercising a way to extend as well as enjoy one’s life, not to mention great for the psyche?

    If you take the time to think about the facts for a moment you would realize that speed does not create nor reduce traffic. The quantity of cars create traffic, though flowing traffic does not create gridlock. Inconsistent and inconsiderate driving habits do more to create gridlock than traffic speed. As an example: if all traffic flows along at 25 mph, there is no gridlock. If some of the traffic is traveling at 25 mph and others run up on them at 50 mph they have to brake hard that creates seeming gridlock not real traffic imposed gridlock. Just relax.

    If you drive the entire length of the Key on GMD at 25 mph it will take approx.. 24 minutes, at 45 mph it would be approx.. 14 minutes. Is that mere 10 minutes worth killing someone? Do you have the time to enjoy the beauty that the Key has to offer at a higher speed safely? Wouldn’t we all benefit from just slowing down and enjoying life a little more?

    As for the crosswalks, if they save even one life are they not worth it? Before you answer, make that life one of your family members.

    Now to the commissioners, stop being flip-flop politicians and be residents with a brain for a moment. Think what the area has to offer, think how much better it would be slowed down just a bit to a more relaxing stage. Crossing the street would be safe if people just slowed down a little, enjoyed more of life. We want the area to be a relaxed, beautiful and a great place to live don’t we? Then think about the higher speeds versus the importance of lives and a calmer way of life.

  4. Cathie Hodgson says:

    I agree with Barry’s comment. Find solutions to make the crosswalks work. Longboat Key has become a nightmare for travel. Soon, if not already, the traffic gridlock will drive away tourists and townspeople alike. Without crosswalks, any effort to provide public forms of transit will not work. Walkable communities are now the places where people want to live and work. Longboat Key has a great trail running the length of the island, but if you cannot cross the street, then usage of this great resource is seriously impacted. Find solutions that keep the crosswalks and make them safer.

  5. David Baughman says:

    reducing the speed limit is a noble but unnsupportable idea. all it will produce is more traffic tickets and minimal safety improvement. just add impatience to the psyche of motorists and it will be a safer environment? I don’t think so.

    the major problem is that there are so many places where people cross the street and they don’t wan’t to walk to a crosswalk that, once crossed, leads nowhere or to another path further away. the shortest path is what crossers want and who can blame them?

    better to offer a call in shuttle service or remove the crosswalks and hold crossing classes at the new cultural center.

    lastly, put a crosswalk at north shore road, near the bridge, and then see what the word dangerous really means. not a good idea and it hasn’t been needed for decades, so why now?

  6. Barry Rookes says:

    FDOT could improve the effectiveness and survivability of a vehicular pedestrian strike by simply reducing the speed limit of GOM Drive or in the areas of the proposed crosswalks to 35 mph. Given the demographic of our pedestrians (aging and children) and the risk associated with misjudging the travel time by foot and by car, the speed of the roadway should be reduced. You don’t need to be a math major to calculate the “extra time” required to travel the entire length of the key at a reduced limit. Speed kills and what’s your hurry?

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