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Manatee Commissioner Baugh, residents oppose Whitfield Avenue speed limit increase

MANATEE -- If the speed limit along Whitfield Avenue in Palm Aire is increased from 30 to 40 mph, the community will change greatly, Palm Aire resident Sally Read predicted Wednesday.

Read and more than 60 other Palm Aire residents filled the Lakes Room in the Palm Aire Country Club to hear from Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh and express concerns about increasing the speed limit along Whitfield Avenue between Lockwood Ridge Boulevard and University Parkway.

"It would diminish that of being a golf cart community," Read said. "We have to slow down. This is the way of life here, and two minutes is not the way of life here."

Baugh, who represents the community, told the Palm Aire residents she was not in favor of increasing the Whitfield Avenue speed limit. The room erupted into applause after Baugh said she isn't in favor of the increase.

"The speed limit is there for a reason," she added.

Since four commissioners need to vote against the speed limit increase for it to pass, Baugh encouraged residents to email all commissioners.

"I really don't believe we have anything to worry about," Baugh said during the hour-long discussion.

There has been talk of banning golf carts along the stretch, but Baugh assured residents "nothing has been discussed with county commission about the golf carts."

Baugh would also like to see trucks routed away from Whitfield Avenue, another statement greeted by applause.

"Roads are an issue and you don't have to tell me that," Baugh said. "I know it. I drive it every day. We have an issue. We have a lot of roads that are older roads that need repair."

Bob Bennett with Palm Aire Country Club told residents "email, email, email is the answer."

"They need to know that we care and what we care about," he said. "Our mantra is 'faster is not safer.' "

At a May 12 work session, the commission discussed adjusting speed limits on county roads including Whitfield Avenue. Two public hearings, yet to be scheduled, are required before speed limits can be changed.

County staff conducted a traffic analysis of "major thorough

fares countywide for consistency of speed limits," according to county documents.

Staff recommendations to the county commission include:

Rye Road from State Road 64 to County Road 675: Keep speed limit 55 mph.

Golf course from Fort Hamer Road to Rye Road: Increase posted 30 and 40 mph speed limits to 45 mph.

Chin Road from U.S. 301 to Old Tampa Road: Increase posted 30 mph speed limit to 45 mph.

Lockwood Ridge Road from University Parkway to State Road 70: Make speed limit uniform at 45 mph from 35 mph to 45 mph.

Lorraine Road from State Road 70 to University Parkway: Increase 35 mph speed limit to 45 mph.

University Parkway from Interstate 75 to Lorraine Road: Increase 45 mph speed limit to 50 mph.

Whitfield Avenue from Lockwood Ridge Road to University Parkway: Increase 30 mph speed limit to 40 mph.

Honore Avenue between University Parkway to Lockwood Ridge Road: Change 35 mph speed limit to 40 mph at certain sections.

63rd Avenue East from Lockwood Ridge Road to U.S. 301: Change 35 and 40 mph speed limits to all 40 mph.

75th Street West from Manatee Avenue West to 53rd Avenue West: Make speed limit 45 mph between Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road and 50 mph between Cortez Road to 53rd Avenue West.

El Conquistador Parkway between 53rd Avenue West and 34th Street West: Change speed limit from 30 and 35 mph to 40 and 44 mph.

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

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