BRADENTON -- A fundamental part of the 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) is the allocation of funds specifically for multi-modal transportation improvements on the U.S. 41 corridor. The corridor runs from northern Manatee County to southern Sarasota County and is divided into 10 qualifying segments. Qualifying projects must address a set of guiding principles that meet a criteria set by an AD Hoc Committee. The committee is made up of local government officials, and so are the guidelines.
Monday was the third time the MPO and the planning and engineering firm, Tindal--Oliver & Associates, have met in developing the final plan. William E. Roll, one of Tindal--Oliver's associates, presented the plan to the board.
Unlike most LRTP's of the past, this one is multi-model and must, to some extent, sufficiently incorporate pedestrian and bicycle traffic as well as cars, trucks and buses. The guiding principals that qualify each segment of the plan are:
1. Must address mobility, connectivity or congestion needs
2. Must abide to current planning land use rules
3. Must have local support
4. Must improve safety for vulnerable users
5. Should encourage economic development or revitalization
6. Must have little unmitigated environmental impact
7. Should have sufficient management and operational strategies
8. Should emphasize preservation and maintenance of existing transportation system.
Disagreements have arisen from the different perceptions of what might be enough bus lanes, crosswalks and bike paths; as well as how much emphasize should be put on landscape, multi-use trails and traffic calming. The more contentious discussions have centered on four or six lanes, traffic lights or roundabouts and how much plans should cater to business, compared to moving traffic.
What Roll addressed in his presentation avoided many of the questions from earlier meetings, because it was more like picking out the suit before you try it on. As constituents start to reflect more of what this LRTP has in store, there may be a few speed bumps in the plan.
The six-lane Venice Bypass doesn't seem to be sealed in cement, and bus pull-out lanes, turn lanes and bike paths aren't showing up as much as some would like, but all stakeholders know there's still a long way to go. There are still a lot of particulars that are bound to surface soon. One popped-up when Commissioner Patterson tried to clarify the need to add trees, for trees sake, as a qualifying element for a segment. After a bit of debate, a motion was made to do so, and it passed 11 to 3; Bustle, Hayes and McClash dissenting.
There could be another update April 23 at the next MPO meeting.