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Longboat Key Friday, Mar. 20, 2020 1 year ago

Beach, dining restrictions prompt end to crossing guard plan

Sarasota, Longboat and FDOT agree to drop idea because of traffic drop-off.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor

A plan to post crossing guards at St. Armands Circle to help keep traffic moving through the often-congested shopping district has been shelved because of restrictions on beachgoing and restaurant dining over coronavirus concerns. 

Sarasota, Longboat Key and Florida Department of Transportation officials agreed to try an idea that had originally been tested in 2016 to post trained crossing guards at key locations on the circle, gathering groups of pedestrians to cross at once, rather than allowing individuals or small groups to cross more frequently. The goal was to keep vehicles moving for longer periods of time to avoid back ups. 

The city, town and state agency agreed to split the $21,000 cost of the program, that would have run Wednesdays through Sundays from mid-March through mid-April. The personnel were to be hired and trained by Sarasota. 

On Thursday, Sarasota County officials ordered all beaches closed at 6 a.m. Saturday. Earlier in the week, state officials ordered restaurants to cut capacity by half and bars to close for 30 days. Sarasota City officials on Thursday shut down alcohol sales at restaurants after 9 p.m.

"All parties agreed to terminate the program immediately and plan for a similar program prior to next season,'' Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer wrote in a memo to Town Commissioners. 



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