Racing on Ringling Bridge fuels City Manager reaction

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Concerns over motorists driving recklessly and speeding on the Ringling Bridge resurfaced last week.

In a flurry of communications between the City of Sarasota Manager, Police Officials and the City Mayor, several options to combat the issue were brought to light.

Initially, the City received complaints last June and Sarasota City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said the city will continue to monitor and enforce through traffic patrols, which have been stepped up.

The complaint is that motorists and motorcyclists use the stretch from US 41 to Bird Key as an opportunity for extreme speeding especially at night when traffic is sparse.

“I’m aware that more needs to be done,” said Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch, and she asked for an update on the situation.

City Manager Tom Barwin explained that “these are big roads with heavy traffic during peak travel time. The down side, is that during non-peak travel times, motorists are not slowed by traffic and take liberties on the bridge.”

Barwin said he will again raise the issue with the Florida Department of Transportation to explore additional options beyond police traffic patrols.

Barwin said the technology is available and used by other states to automatically photograph and issue tickets similar to a red-light camera. He added that he does not believe it is legal in Florida to utilize such ticket-issuing devices without new legislation.

“What is allowed, however, is technology which can flash a driver’s speed, which often gets the attention of a driver who is ignoring or is oblivious to speed limits. Perhaps a set or two can be installed by FDOT at appropriate locations to help with the challenge,” said Barwin.

Barwin said that the Police Chief will enforce to the best of their abilities within the confines of available resources and call activity.

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