ANNA MARIA ISLAND, FL (WWSB) – “There’s a lot of traffic, a lot of people want to come out here,” said John Bradbury, former Anna Maria Island resident.
Before he can relax at Manatee Beach, Bradbury has a stressful drive getting to his destination.
“When the boat comes and they lift the bridge, you might as well just hang it up,” explained Bradbury of his drive, right before arriving to the island.
Between backups and traffic on the island, the ride can be a nightmare for drivers. The Florida Department of Transportation wants to relieve future headaches by building a roundabout at East Bay Drive and Manatee Avenue and remove the traffic signal.
“In many circumstances they can also eliminate some delays by allowing traffic to move quicker in congestion areas,” explained David Hutchinson, Executive Director of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.
FDOT is also looking at adding roundabouts at other intersections as part of its Barrier Island Traffic Study. Those would be constructed on Gulf Drive at its intersections with East Bay and Marina Drive, and at the intersection of Palm and Marina-Key Royale drives.
Hutchinson says roundabouts aren’t always the answer, but believes they would have been helpful when Hurricane Irma knocked out all of the traffic lights on the island.
“In the event of an evacuation or power going out during a storm, you don’t always have to wait for the power to be restored,” explained Hutchinson.
Bradbury believes local drivers are too impatient to operate roundabouts safely.
“People don’t want to slow down, don’t want to get off. I’ve seen may too many people get hit,” stated Bradbury.
Hutchinson says MPO and FDOT are still making plans for these intersections, but a roundabout is the leading contender.
“You can greatly improve safety at a roundabout,” explained Hutchinson.
FDOT will enter the third phase of its Barrier Island Traffic Study in the fall, and it’s expected to be complete by Spring 2019. Short term projects, like the roundabout, take 1-3 years to complete, according to FDOT.