Eighty-eight signs have disappeared over the past year-and-a-half along a two-and-a-half-mile stretch from the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota through the New Pass Bridge.
They weren’t stolen or taken away because they didn’t comply with codes.
Lou Costa, who also serves as chairman of the Bird Key Enhancement Committee, is part of a small group of engineers that formed last year to work with the city of Sarasota and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to remove excess signage from the gateways to Sarasota’s tourist destinations.
According to Costa, efforts began after renovations to Bird Key Park were completed as part of the West Bayfront Multi-Use Recreation Trail (MURT).
“You looked at it and you can’t believe it,” he said. “All the signs are sitting there, and it’s a million-dollar view.”
Longboat Key residents took on a similar effort in 2010 and 2011, when they successfully convinced FDOT officials to remove 68 sign posts and 49 signs from Gulf of Mexico Drive.
“A lot of this is because of the Longboat effort,” Costa said. “If Longboat did it, we could do it.”
The signs that were removed were primarily traffic-related, such as no parking in the right of way signs that were often just a half-mile apart on the Sarasota side of New Pass Bridge. FDOT also removed eight of 12 no-fishing signs from New Pass Bridge while keeping one on each corner.
Costa emailed Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Duncan after reading Duncan had asked town staff to research whether it would make sense to join the Florida Scenic Highway Program. Costa wrote that the idea falls into his group’s “big picture.”
Duncan said he has asked Public Works Director Juan Florensa to continue to research the issue.
“As it develops, we will learn more,” Duncan said. “Maybe there’s some partnerships we can form, but it’s too soon to tell.”