A revised traffic study submitted to the town by The Longboat Key Club and Resort for its $400 million Islandside renovation plan states that the project will add one extra car per minute traveling in either direction on Gulf of Mexico Drive. The study analyzes car figures for one hour of peak travel time both north and south of the project.
Tampa-based Grimail Crawford Inc. came to that conclusion after performing its second traffic analysis for the resort in April around the Easter holiday, after opponents of the project said the first analysis was inaccurate because it was conducted last fall.
Traffic generated by the project, according to the analysis, is estimated to add an additional 262 vehicles during one peak afternoon traffic hour (peak afternoon traffic hours are considered between 4 and 6 p.m).
That amounts to 144 estimated new trips traveling in either direction south of the project site and 118 new trips in either direction to the north of the project.
That’s 2.4 additional cars per minute traveling in either direction south of the project, or an extra 1.2 cars every 30 seconds.
North of the project, the analysis estimates two additional cars per minute traveling in either direction, or an extra car every 30 seconds.
So, combined, the analysis estimates that only one additional car in either direction north or south of the project will be on the island’s main thoroughfare as a result of a $400 million project that calls for 196 new hotel rooms, 176 new condos and villas, a new meeting center and several other amenities.
In total, the analysis projects the new development will add an additional 2,476 vehicle trips over a 24-hour period in the year 2014 that will come from all existing and proposed new uses at the resort.
Grimail Crawford senior associate Richard Stiles said the study was done factoring a 2% growth rate per year in traffic volume on Gulf of Mexico Drive (exclusive of the resort’s project), even though traffic on the state highway has decreased in volume over the last 10 years.
“We overestimated the traffic that’s going to be on there as a worst-case scenario that we don’t anticipate,” Stiles said.
The analysis also factored in traffic volumes for the anticipated addition of 250 future tourism units town-wide that voters approved in a referenda.
Stiles spent hours studying the traffic patterns on Gulf of Mexico Drive and Longboat Club Road before making his conclusions.
“One additional car per minute in either direction, in the afternoon peak traffic time only, is not significant,” Stiles said.
And, to address concerns from residents and town staff, the new analysis also considers New Pass Bridge openings and how the meeting center would affect traffic when special events are held there.
Using a traffic program to analyze New Pass Bridge openings for traffic flow in the year 2014, the analysis reports “there will be no perceptible difference … with or without the project.”
Stiles, however, noted that modeling a bridge opening is extremely difficult.
At the request of town staff, a special-event analysis, defined as events with 700 or more attendees that require special traffic control and parking accommodations, was performed.
At a ratio of one vehicle for every 2.3 attendees, the study states the future three-level parking garage adjacent to the proposed meeting center will accommodate 731 attendees. That means vehicle demand for special events, according to the analysis, is assumed to be 318 vehicles above normal traffic.
And the study concluded the guardhouse on Longboat Club Road, which the club initially hoped to rebuild and move further back from Gulf of Mexico Drive, will not affect traffic by remaining in its current location.
“Inbound flow through that gatehouse works fine and I never saw any stacking of cars on Gulf of Mexico Drive,” Stiles said.
Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Daigle is expected to announce whether the resort’s revised Islandside application is considered complete by the end of the week.
FALLING TRAFFIC COUNTS
From a traffic high along Gulf of Mexico Drive in 2001, the island has lost this much traffic since 2006 along three separate Key driving points,:
• The north end has lost 2,100 cars, or 33% of its traffic.
• The county line has lost 2,700 cars, or 22% of its traffic.
• The south end has lost 4,700, or 25% of its traffic.
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