With the Manatee-Sarasota region in Florida’s top 20 high-risk counties for pedestrians and bicyclists, local elected officials are seeking state funding to help address safety issues.
On Monday, the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization board, which is comprised of elected officials from both counties, approved requesting Florida Department of Transportation funding for a Roadway Safety Audit for Motorized and Non-Motorized High Risk Locations.
“We are asking to partner with FDOT at this point to do safety audits,” said Leigh Holt, with the MPO. “Safety audit is a great way to take a look at those locations.”
Citing other safety audits, Holt said code enforcement issues can sometimes be identified, which help in regard to safety.
“That made the corridors safer,” she said. “There’s lot of solutions that you can’t really see on a map or on a report.”
In Manatee and Sarasota counties, there has been an increase in fatalities and serious injuries, and one out of every three crashes involves an elderly person, according to agenda materials.
“Manatee and Sarasota counties also have higher rates of non-motorized injuries and fatalities than the Florida average,” according to the materials.
To address these safety issues across the state, FDOT has earmarked $100 million for projects.
“The primary purpose of this program is the reduction of fatal and serious injuries resulting from traffic crashes,” according to the materials.
Before an audit, FDOT District One Secretary L.K. Nandam suggested the board consider a pedestrian safety action plan.
“If the department was able to find some funding, that could be used to fund the road safety action plan,” said MPO executive director David Hutchinson.
Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant praised moving forward with the safety audit.
“I’m so pleased to see this on here,” she said. “I just embrace this wholeheartedly.”
Also on Monday, the MPO:
- Heard a presentation about the proposed realignment of the Shared-Use, Nonmotorized Trails System through the Manatee/Sarasota region. The Office of Greenways and Trails is updating its plans. “I think steering bicyclists off to a more scenic route makes more common sense,” Bradenton City Councilman Patrick Roff said. “I think it is a good idea what you are proposing.”
- Heard a presentation about the federally mandated Performance Measures required by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. In the Manatee/Sarasota region, there are 493 bridges with 95 percent of all bridges in good condition.
- Heard that the Islands-mainland traffic study will be “kicking off soon” and the second phase of the Central Manatee Network Alternatives Analysis, which will help address congestion in Bradenton-Palmetto, will be completed by the end of the year.