Mr. Daniel Hardy from the Renaissance Planning Group was back, feeling confident about what his Washington D.C. firm had concluded was the best way to drive through the city of Venice. Move over curb, because Plan A is coming through, and it's got six lanes with turning lanes too, and no roundabouts to slow things down. There will be signal lights with crosswalk countdowns for the 50-yard dash to get to the other side.
The MPO's Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) was in favor of the design by a vote of 12 to 2, and so was the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) that voted 12 to 3, in favor of the six lane/signal plan.
It was clear that the 20 years the highway has been in question was wearing on all of the members, and a vote of approval seemed likely. Public comments mostly favored Plan A, stating things like; "Go with the plan," "The time is now," and "We need to move forward."
But not all were happy with the final design, or the $70 million it was going to take to do it. Some actually wanted the highway to stay the way it was. They claim, except for a couple of hours during rush hour, that the current four lanes did quite well. Some stated projections were off, and the amount of traffic the future has in store will not be at the level some anticipate. And some, like Sarasota Commissioner Nora Patterson and Manatee Commissioner Joe McClash, felt that there are just a couple of troublesome areas in need of tweaking. The two commissioners disagree slightly as to which areas those are, but clearly neither were buying into the grand highway all of the way through town idea, and both of their votes reflected that.
The supporters were slightly weighing in heavy with industry and government commenters, pushing progress in their message, while those who argued against the larger highway spoke more to the quality of the highway experience. Concerns often moved to the safety advantages with four lanes rather then six, and the ambiance of fewer lanes over the muscle transport of more.
It wasn't clear just how the merchants felt about Plan A. One speaker who surveyed stores in the path said they were against the faster, wider road and some spoke to the contrary. It's not clear how the bike experience is going to be and what the final cost to right of way will amount to, but now that the decision has been made, the planners can move forward with those decisions.
No doubt, the idea was getting old enough to collect a pension, and in the end, the yeas won over the nays, 9 to 4. The future will tell what road the wisdom was on, and who knows, one day Venice might host a Grand Prix.
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