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Longboat Key Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019 7 months ago

Longboat neighborhood, town leaders steer for traffic solutions

Village residents and town officials work to document and stay a step ahead of speed, parking issues.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor

Speed bumps on Broadway Street? Traffic cameras? Tow-away zones? 

While none of those suggested traffic moves in Longboat Key's historic neighborhood are under official consideration, yet, residents of Longbeach Village are talking to town officials and among themselves about what they call a potentially dangerous situation involving speed and sight lines at intersections and driveways obstructed by parked cars.

"The amount of parking on Broadway, and secondly the speed of the traffic,'' Madeleine Stewart told town commissioners on Monday. "We are in a residential neighborhood that unfortunately now has two very large restaurants on the water, with one main street access to those restaurants. Our main concern now in the Village outside of the parking is safety.''

Residents point to the seasonal upswing at The Shore, which opened over the summer, and Mar Vista Dockside as the main driver of traffic problems, though both restaurants meet town parking requirements. Town leaders, following meetings with residents in recent weeks, solidified two issues on Monday that will make it easier for police to write parking tickets on Broadway Street and Lois Avenue. 

With unanimous votes, commissioners rewrote town code to:

  • Make clear that any parking encroachment into 15-foot triangular setbacks painted on Broadway Street is considered a violation. Previously, the code implied an actual driveway obstruction would be required to write a parking ticket.
  • Added inadvertently missing code language in support of no parking signs on the west side of Lois Avenue, south of Broadway Street.

Police have been active in the area writing moving violations and parking tickets, and also have been collecting data with an electronic device that counts cars, records speeds and traffic flow. In a nine-day span beginning Nov. 11, the device indicated an average speed on Broadway Street of about 18 mph. More than 11,000 cars passed the device, with more than 95% operating under 30 mph. The speed limit is 20 mph.

"The speeds are relatively low, but there are some outliers who are driving faster than they should be,'' Town Manager Tom Harmer said.

A similar study over five days in March captured about 10,000 cars with an average speed of about 21 mph, though the speed limit then was 25 mph.

The town rewrote rules to make it easier for police officers to ticket cars parked in the set-back zones at intersections and alongside driveways.

"The amount of traffic has changed the ambiance of where we live, and we are looking for some real solutions from our leaders here that will be something that's not just put off as a survey or waiting for a terrible accident to happen,''  Stewart said. "We're looking for some real concrete solutions."

Residents responding to a neighborhood survey generally favored a range of possibilities, said resident Carla Rowan. The possibility of no street parking at all in the Village -- with some exceptions -- drew the most positive responses: 150 of 167. Tow-away zones attracted 146 positive responses, and the idea of speed bumps or traffic cameras were on the plus side, but by tighter margins. 

Longboat Police last month bought a radar trailer that displays the speed limit and the actual speed of an approaching vehicle and put it straight to work on Broadway Street. "it doesn't take care of the volume of traffic,'' Stewart said.

Parking is restricted near intersections.

Commission Mike Haycock said perhaps a simple and effective solution to slow cars down is a series of four-way stops on Broadway Street. 

"I think the one thing you've got to do when you have a stop sign is you've got to stop,'' he said. "I just think we ought to consider asking the folks in the Village to think about where they might be. If you put two stop signs on Broadway, you'll find the traffic would significantly reduce in speed and provide a place they know they can get out safely.''

Commissioner Jack Daly said he acknowledges that few people like speed bumps, but he said he's seen how effectively they can work and that they might be a solution. 

"They do get people's attention,'' Mayor George Spoll said. 






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