A dedicated transit lane on the Cortez Bridge replacement will only reduce vehicles per day by 2.9 percent, a transportation planner told commissioners Tuesday.
“I don’t particularly see the dedicated lane in this setting as a good idea,” said Henry Kay, a transportation planner, adding that the travel time is more greatly affected by the decision whether to have a fixed or movable bridge.
2.9 percent Reduction of cars on bridge with dedicated transit lane
As Florida Department of Transportation looks at replacing both bridges to Anna Maria Island, Manatee County officials have asked about the possibility of including a lane dedicated to transit as a way to reduce to traffic congestion. But during an FDOT presentation Tuesday, commissioners heard that only about 5 percent of travelers would get out of cars and into the buses.
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“It is going to be small under any circumstance. Too small probably to affect the congestion. Too small to affect queue lengths on the bridge, and before and after the bridge, and really too small to reduce any significant number of vehicles on the bridge,” Kay said.
The projection is eye-opening, Commissioner Carol Whitmore said.
That is kind of disappointing because we all thought that was the magic fix.
Carol Whitmore, Manatee County Commissioner
“I was just totally blown away,” she said. “That is kind of disappointing because we all thought that was the magic fix.”
The state is conducting a project development and environment study, looking at alternatives for either the rehabilitation or replacement of the Cortez Bridge. The replacement of the Anna Maria Bridge is in the design phase for a high-level, fixed replacement bridge.
“We do understand that they are two separate bridges,” said Kati Sherrard, an FDOT project manager.
While construction of a new Anna Maria Island bridge, which is estimated to cost $76 million, is still not funded, an aesthetics committee of local officials will begin meeting later this month. The design of the bridge is estimated to be completed by winter 2019. In January, the Federal Highway Administration granted approval of “Finding of No Significant Impact” for the proposed replacement of this bridge.
“We are going to have to figure out a way to fund these bridges,” Commission Chairwoman Vanessa Baugh said.
For the Cortez Bridge project, a second alternatives public hearing is expected to take place this summer, according to Tuesday’s presentation.
Commissioner John Chappie said they want to get it right the first time.
“The decisions that are going to be made here with these two bridges are going to set a direction for island cities and quality of life and issues we have to deal with every day for 75 years,” he said.
FDOT said they are looking to build the Cortez Bridge replacement north of the existing bridge.
But, as Chappie noted, “this is a very tight area.”
“We are concerned with the Village of Cortez with a bridge landing in there, and how possibly it can change everything,” he said.