MPO boards review alternatives to I-75

skennedy@bradenton.comJanuary 28, 2013 

NORTH PORT -- Alternatives to crowded Interstate-75 were the focus Monday of two regional planning boards reviewing a recent study issued by the Florida Department of Transportation.

The study noted that "I-75 is overwhelmed with traffic demand in many locations," and sought to find ways to make Florida's transportation system more efficient at moving people and freight, it said.

It listed such possibilities along the I-75 corridor as marine highways and short sea shipping; parallel rail lines; carpool, vanpool, and ridesharing programs; and adding more lanes to I-75.

Board members of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Charlotte County-Punta Gorda MPO were complimentary.

"I'm very interested in the alternatives," said Manatee County Commission Chairman Larry Bustle, who serves on the MPO board.

He was particularly curious about "managed highway" lanes, which provide such things as incentives to drivers with more than one passenger, or dedicated lanes for buses or trucks.

"It will control congestion," Bustle said.

In Miami-Dade and Broward counties, there is an additional, managed highway lane, controlled by how much traffic is on it, said Mike Howe, executive director of the Sarasota/Manatee MPO.

"If it is congested, persons will pay more to go in the express lane; if it's 2 a.m., you can probably ride on express lanes very inexpensively--that's one option out there," Howe said.

County Commissioner Betsy Benac appreciated the high-level study, but added, "We need to focus on making sure we accommodate the local traffic that is now using I-75."

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.com.

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