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BRT may bypass Laurel Park

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  • | 4:00 a.m. April 8, 2010
  • Sarasota
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The SCAT bus system had two major hurdles to clear before its proposed bus rapid-transit line could win approval — the cost, which is estimated at about $100 million, and the opposition of the Laurel Park neighborhood.

The neighborhood opposition was so staunch that SCAT’s general manager, Anthony Beckford, said last year that he thought the BRT had just a 50% chance of getting approved.

“It doesn’t take many people to kill a project,” he said.

The BRT is a faster transit line that would have few stops as it travels from the University of South Florida area to the Westfield Southgate Mall.

The original route proposed it traveling down Osprey Avenue, through Laurel Park. The neighborhood was strongly opposed to that route, because it’s mainly a residential area, with homes sitting close to the roadway.

Residents feared noise and pollution would affect the area.

SCAT has come up with an alternative route that would take its buses down Orange Avenue to Mound Street.

Laurel Park neighbors are pleased with the new proposal.

“It’s a wonderful outcome,” said Kate Lowman, board member of the Laurel Park Neighborhood Association. “In all my years, this is the only issue that every single person in Laurel Park agreed on.”

SCAT is scheduling an open house April 17 to present the plan (see box), then the alternative route will go before the City Commission April 19. The route is expected to receive approval there, because it was the
City Commission that originally asked SCAT to find a different route.

The County Commission, though, has the final say over the BRT’s route and will make its decision at a later date.

BRT Open House

When: 9:30 to 11 a.m., April 17
Where: County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].