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Longboat Key Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 4 years ago

Local funds needed to power traffic study

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Metropolitan Planning Organization funds will help drive a seasonal traffic study.
by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

A $675,000 seasonal traffic study that will analyze traffic in both Manatee and Sarasota counties is going to need local money.

Florida Department of Transportation District 1 Secretary Billy Hattaway told Metropolitan Planning Organization elected officials at their meeting Monday in Venice that he submitted a request from FDOT last week in Tallahassee for monetary assistance with the study.

MPO officials agreed Monday that if FDOT requires a local funding match, typically anywhere from 20% to 50% of a project’s cost, the agency’s funds could be used.

Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Daly told MPO Executive Director David Hutchinson in a Jan. 21 email that the MPO, which is made up of elected officials in both Manatee and Sarasota counties, should be prepared to support the study financially.

Daly suggests Hutchinson offer that MPO pay 20%, or $135,000, of the estimated $675,000 cost.

“My discussions with the secretary clearly indicate that any FDOT funding will necessitate some ‘local skin in the game’ funding by the MPO,” Daly wrote to Hutchinson.

Hattaway said he should have an answer on funding support from FDOT officials in Tallahassee in the next week or two, and MPO officials can then discuss how much financial support they will offer.

Daly wrote in the email that FDOT “is taking ownership of the study and that, while the secretary is diligently pursuing potential state funding sources, if he is to be successful, some level of MPO local funding will substantially enhance the prospects of FDOT funding.”

Town Manager Dave Bullock and Mayor Jack Duncan urged the MPO and FDOT to take ownership of the traffic problem on Longboat Key and surrounding barrier islands and perform a study last April.

The town is working on several fronts to alleviate seasonal traffic, especially because four hotel projects will be underway in 2016 in downtown Sarasota that will add to beach traffic upon completion.

Bullock says if the Sarasota-Manatee area can’t manage traffic more efficiently in season, it’s in danger of losing both tourists and residents to areas that can.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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