Other than the historic progression of things, there is no good reason for Siesta Key’s Midnight Pass Road to be a state road. But the county has no interest in taking it over because that would mean taking over the cost of upkeep. So it will remain a state road.
But there is a problem there — it fails the principle that the government closest to the people is best. This was on display most recently with the Florida Department of Transportation plans to build 10 pedestrian islands on Midnight Pass Road between Beach Road and Stickney Point Road.
That stretch of road is considered dangerous at times for pedestrians crossing it to get to the beach. Several years ago, condo managers asked the state DOT to slow the speed limit to make the crossing safer. But distant DOT bureaucrats opposed the cheap and easy fix and morphed the request into the islands that would allow pedestrians to cross one lane at a time.
Nobody locally liked that option, not condo owners, the Siesta Key Association, the fire department or Sarasota County. The DOT mollified the fire department, but the project was put on hold in 2007 for lack of funds.
The money is now available, and the DOT was ready to move forward with the islands with nary a public announcement.
Local officials learned that the islands were back through the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization and quickly moved to ask the DOT to hold a public hearing. That will be done Dec. 6.
Considering the shortage of transportation funds, this is a project that should be canned, and the state should return to the simple solution of reducing the speed limit.
+ Bus fare indifference
Bus fares throughout Sarasota County will rise Oct. 3. But the response at several public hearings throughout the county has been one, big yawn.
Even in Newtown, which, given the low incomes in the area has one of the highest SCAT riderships, eight people showed up at a public hearing, and not one of those spoke against the fare increase. The only complaints were about service and the bus shelters.
The fares will increase from $0.75 to $1.25 for a single ticket, while a monthly pass will bump up from $40 to $50. A one-day pass for unlimited rides anywhere went from $3 to $4.
Sarasota County had one of the lowest public bus fare schedules in the state and nation, and had been subsidizing the service with millions in general tax money for years. The rate increases will put the county in the same range as other counties its size in Florida, and about the same as Manatee County.
It is the right and necessary choice.
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