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Citizen's Persistence Paves Way for Parkway Safety


BRADENTON -- Ronnie Snyder says, "I don't give up," and he hasn't. Snyder has been attending MPO meetings since October of last year, with one goal: to help MPO members understand the significance of installing street lights to what is quite possibly the most traveled highway in both Manatee and Sarasota Counties. 

This 23-year Bradenton resident knows how to be polite, because every time Snyder speaks at the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, he is often ignored; but not at Monday's meeting. There he made it official, by getting board members to take a vote and confirm that this time they were going to deal with his concerns responsibly.

When Snyder repeated what he had said so many times before, that a lit street is safer for pedestrians and vehicles; stimulated more social and economic activity; and brought additional comfort for those who live on or around them; this time it made a difference.

It was easy to assume Snyder was being ignored, because for one reason, I cover all of the MPO meetings, and board members couldn't remember whether they had followed up on the concerns Snyder had raised so many times before.

Every item on Monday's agenda had dialog that pulled the proposed University Parkway/I-75 intersection design into the discussion; as did Snyder's comments.

The 5.1 mile strip of unlit six-lane highway of University Parkway that runs from I-75 to Bradenton/Sarasota Airport (SRQ) also qualified for another swat at conveying to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary, Bill Hathaway, the importance of having FDOT prioritize the funding for their LWR project.

More than once, fellow board members made insinuations that FDOT wasn't expediting the MPO's request as fast as they could, until Hattaway scoldingly corrected those members about any suggestion as to why it was taking so long.

The conversation quickly turned back to the street lighting. 

Board members realized they were the forgetful ones when Sage Kamiya, Deputy Director Traffic Management for Manatee County, reminded them that the board had asked for someone to look into the issue.

Kamiya said the "crash survey" didn't support the request. But University Parkway is the official county-line highway that, for the most part, separates Manatee County to the north from Sarasota on the south; and therein lies the real issue.

The conversation again quickly changed, only this time the topic was funding. Neither county wants to fork over the millions of dollars it will take to light 5.1 miles of University Parkway; nor does either want the mega-watt electric bills.

But with a unanimous vote, board members vowed to look past using the "crash survey" to see if they can make University Parkway as safe at night as other six-lane highways.

So for those who will be walking down a well-lit University Parkway in the distant future, know it is the light of persistence that shines on you.



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