MANATEE -- Elected officials from Manatee and Sarasota counties were reminded Monday there isn't enough money to cover all of the region's transportation needs.
"We really need to accept the fact that we are short of funds so what is actually feasible isn't anywhere near what we'd like to see," Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization Chairman Jim Bennett said Monday.
At Monday's MPO meeting, the board, which includes elected officials from Manatee and Sarasota counties, heard the first draft of the Financially Feasible Plan for the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan.
"One of the things that this whole process does is point out the gap of needs versus available funds," MPO executive director David Hutchinson said.
In July, the MPO approved the 2040 Long Range Transportation Needs Plan. The board could approve the final draft of the Financially Feasible Plan at its Oct. 26 meeting. In December, the board is set to adopt the 2040 plan.
According to the first draft of the Financially Feasible Plan, each county will receive $3 million per year for the Multimodal Emphasis Corridor, $1 million per year for Congestion Management and $600,000 per
year for Transportation Alternatives.
Roadway projects included for Manatee County are the 15th Street Complete Street Project, resulting from the Central Manatee Network Analysis and continued funding to expand the Advanced Traffic Management Systems.
Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie said there may be projects identified from the barrier island to mainland traffic analysis. The board is waiting to hear from the Florida Department of Transportation about the scope of such a study.
"We are already behind the eight ball with regards to traffic congestion on the barrier islands and approaches to barrier islands in not just Manatee but Sarasota counties," Chappie said. "I think we need to try to push this forward as quickly as possible."
While included in the 2040 plan to be widened to four lanes, Commissioner Vanessa Baugh reiterated the potential need to address the traffic issues on State Road 70 in East Manatee sooner than later.
"I'm just bringing it up again because I think it's something that we are going to have to look at and try to move up," Baugh said.
"It's already a very congested road. We have a lot of growth that is going on in that area and it's an east-west road."
Hutchinson told the MPO board that combining local funds with the state and federal funds is something that "we are going to have to look at more closely in the long term, especially given the fact that the listed needs have gone up in price and available funds are actually less."
Also on Monday, the MPO:
Heard a presentation about Sarasota County's recent adoption of a Mobility Fee, which will take effect Jan. 1, that "provides for the funding of bicycle, pedestrian, transit and roadway facilities." The fee replaces the county's road impact fee.
Heard a presentation about a not-for-profit private university called American Marine University, which would offer "degree and certification programs leading to diverse careers and employment opportunities in the worldwide marine industry. The university would be located in north Manatee County on approximately 215 acres and plans to welcome about 4,500 students in August 2017.
Approved amendments to the Transportation Improvement Program, which includes a new Manatee County project for drainage improvements on U.S. 41 from north of Bayshore Gardens Parkway to south of 60th Avenue West.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.