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East County Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021 1 year ago

Tara Boulevard crashes spark speed table discussion

After another accident on Tara Boulevard, Manatee County might take action to slow down motorists.
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

Darby Connor, the chairman of Tara Community Development District 1, looked at the damaged sign marking the entrance to Tara Preserve and saw the latest reminder of the danger present on Tara Boulevard.

The sign is located at the road’s intersection with Tara Preserve Lane, which is the same location where Tara Boulevard ceases to be a relatively straight, four-lane road and becomes a twisty, two-lane road. Connor said a motorist crashed into the sign on the evening of July 30.

“We're just thankful she wasn't injured seriously,” Connor said. “She could have been. Whether it's her fault or not, we have a responsibility to make it safer.”

Connor said many accidents at the same site have resulted in landscape and property damage that Tara Preserve residents end up paying for because the drivers leave the scene before anyone can see them.

The Tara Bridge project is pending removal from the county’s capital improvement plan. With Tara Boulevard now unlikely to serve as a connector between State Road 70 and Honore Avenue, Connor said proposals to slow traffic on Tara Boulevard are more practical than they were before.

Manatee County Public Works Strategic Affairs Manager Ogden Clark III said his department has been studying the possible installation of at least two speed tables on the southern, two-lane portion of Tara Boulevard. Commissioners will see the plans in at least one briefing before the finalized plans are presented to them in a commission meeting, according to Clark.

Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said she is in favor of adding some sort of speed control to Tara Boulevard. Her preferred method would be speed tables, as long as they are wider but not as high as severe speed tables and speed bumps.

“The bottom line is you have to slow down when you’re going across them,” Baugh said.

Connor said he also hopes the county can lower the speed limit on the southern half of the road from 30 to 25 miles per hour. Clark, however, said the two-lane portion of the road is likely to stay at 30 because that is the standard for higher-volume, residential roads.

Connor also wanted to see two additional stop signs installed at Tara Boulevard and Tara Preserve Lane to make the intersection a four-way stop. There are currently no stop signs for motorists traveling through the intersection on Tara Boulevard. Baugh said she wouldn’t support the addition of stop signs on Tara Boulevard.

“Stop signs are effective at first, and then no one pays attention to them anymore,” Baugh said.

For the county to consider additional stop signs or other traffic-calming techniques at the intersection, Clark said a study most likely would have to be conducted. It would then need to show a high enough volume of traffic to warrant slowing motorists.

“Our traffic engineers try to be careful of putting stop signs everywhere,” Clark said. “But I think Darby has made a pretty good case for why — whether it’s (Tara Elementary School) on the other side of it, or the fact that it’s next to all these residents and you’ve got people that are driving recklessly — it’s kind of a recipe for a dangerous situation.”

Although funding is not currently available, Clark said perhaps a roundabout would make sense for the intersection as a way of slowing down motorists at the intersection while still maintaining traffic flow. That is, if commissioners and residents were to agree one was needed.

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Brendan Lavell is a general assignment reporter for the Observer. He earned degrees in journalism and history at the University of Missouri. He has visited 48 of the 50 United States, has a black cat named Arya and roots for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, 76ers and Chelsea FC.

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