Traffic: No magic bullet

Rotary member Alex Bowland, Tom Freiwald, Lenny Landau, and Rotary President Jack Rozance.

Guest Columnist

Calling traffic and its impact on Longboat Key “an old problem that is getting worse,” Lenny Landau and Tom Freiwald from the Longboat Key Revitalization Task Force addressed the members of the Rotary Club of Longboat Key at their April 12th meeting.

Landau and Freiwald reported that the effects of the problem include lost time sitting in traffic, lost interest in returning to Longboat Key, and resultant lost property values. Landau explained that the options are to do nothing, do something, or search for perfection; the 12-member Task Force believes that doing something is the best approach. “Never let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘good enough’,” said Landau. Consequently, the group is looking for short-term traffic solutions that can be implemented with little cost and red-tape.

With just too many vehicles on the road at the same time, residents, businesses, and elected officials must be proactively willing to support solutions, according to Landau; “Traffic is everybody’s problem.” He outlined the simple steps that can be taken by residents, including “don’t go,” schedule appointments and trips outside the 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. peak traffic hours, use Google Maps to avoid congestion, and shop and dine on Longboat Key rather than contribute to the traffic bottle-necks at each end of the island. He suggests that businesses consider implementing staggered 4-day work weeks for their employees, starting the work day earlier and ending it later. Elected officials are encouraged to adjust traffic light timing, control pedestrian traffic at St. Armand’s Circle, control development, and provide more public transportation and shared ride services. Small changes recently implemented by the Florida Department of Transportation at the urging of the Task Force, including adjustment of traffic light timing and limitation of bridge openings, have already resulted in a 22% reduction in travel time to Sarasota, according to Landau.

The Longboat Key Revitalization Task Force was formed in 2011 as a vehicle for people with good ideas to bring them to the Town for consideration. “We look for opportunities to make Longboat a better place, educational things for the general good of Longboat,” stated Freiwald. In addition to traffic issues, the group is addressing red tide, climate change, and other concerns that impact on the quality of life in our island paradise.

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