Cameras proposed to monitor traffic on Anna Maria Island

MANATEE -- Cameras on Anna Maria Island's five sets of traffic signals could better monitor traffic, a Florida Department of Transportation official told the Manatee County Commission on Tuesday.

The Regional Traffic Management Center Concept of Operations Plan for Anna Maria Island, which is in its final draft phase, has not been reviewed by Manatee County staff, according to FDOT District traffic operations engineer L.K. Nandam.

The study is looking at technology to manage traffic conditions on the island, Nandam said, adding it took into consideration three bridges leading to the island and five sets of traffic signals.

Incorporating cameras and Bluetooth devices at all five intersection in addition to a leased line for connection at Gulf Drive and Marina Drive could allow staff to better monitor traffic times and change signal timing, Nandam said.

The estimated cost of system expansion totals $480,000, including $340,000 for construction, $70,000 for design and $70,000 for inspection.

Nandam said including the project in the county's current application for Advanced Traffic Management System expansion is possible. If not, they will seek an additional funding source, he added.

Implementing this technology would be only one strategy in addressing the traffic jam, Nandam said.

"If you look at the island, you have capacity issues because of the constraint of the facilities, and then you got other elements such as parking and everybody trying to go to one place, so how to manage those aspects also comes into the picture," he said. "We just need to remember that this isn't going to be a solve-it-all-type thing."

Commission Chairwoman Betsy Benac thanked FDOT for helping the county look for a solution.

"As we know, our beaches and our island have had huge traffic pressures, and we aren't going to be building additional lanes out there, so we have to come up with whatever tech

nology changes we can," Benac said. "It is certainly the right time as we are in design with our bridges that we incorporate all this together."

Commissioner John Chappie, who represents Anna Maria Island, said it is important to look holistically at all the different parts.

"There is no silver bullet," he said. "It is going to take a combination of a lot of different things to try at best manage the facilities out here."

The commission also:

Authorized applying for a 2017 historic preservation grant from the state to survey the Bayshore Gardens area, which includes 1950s mid-century style homes. The application is for $50,000.

Asked the county Public Works Department for an update on a study being conducted to find ways to alleviate traffic congestion on the Green Bridge. Public works signal timing changes have improved the conditions, according to county staff. Ron Schulhofer, Public Works Department director, said he would bring a formal update from Florida Department of Transportation to the June 2 commission meeting.

Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.