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Longboat Key Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009 8 years ago

Data: Traffic jams would be rare

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Don’t worry about the traffic.

Based on the comments Wednesday of the town of Longboat Key’s traffic engineer, traffic flow on Gulf of Mexico Drive and around the main entrance to the Longboat Key Club and Resort will meet the town’s prescribed levels of service at peak hours and in peak season if the Key Club’s $400 million expansion plan is approved and completed.

“Most of the time, the levels of service will be met,” Bill Oliver, president of Tinsdale-Oliver & Associates, told the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board at Wednesday’s public hearing on the Key Club’s proposed expansion. “But when the sun and the moon and the stars align just right, you can expect the levels of service at below acceptable levels.”

Oliver said the only time traffic would fall below acceptable levels would be during the evening at peak season when the Key Club would host a large event of 700 at its new meeting center — and when the New Pass Bridge is in the open position.

But based on data from Key Club General Manager Michael Welly those occasions would be rare.
Welly told the planning board that he asked the general manager of the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, how many events of 600 or more people the Ritz hosts in a year. Answer: Three, and one of them is for 900 people, which Welly said would be too large for the Key Club.

Welly also said that in the five years he has been general manager, the club has hosted only three events of 600-plus people.

Asked if the projections on traffic took into account the 250 tourism units that voters approved for future construction, Oliver said yes.

Oliver also noted in a graph shown to the planning board that traffic on Gulf of Mexico Drive has declined 32.6% since 2001. Florida Department of Transportation traffic counts show an average of 18,400 motorists per day on Gulf of Mexico Drive in 2001. By 2008, that number had dropped to 12,400.

In addition, Oliver said his study of future traffic on Gulf of Mexico Drive projected a 2% annual increase in traffic, which, he said, is highly unlikely to occur.

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