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Vol. 17 No. 19 - February 22, 2017

opinion

Speed of light?

Twenty-five or 35? Thirty-five or 45?

Keep your eyes open and your head on a swivel. If you are a motorist on Anna Maria Island you will no doubt run into all of these speed limits, and possibly more, as you try to drive from point A to point B in paradise.

Last week, the Holmes Beach City Commission attempted to bring some order to this patchwork quilt approach to speed regulation on AMI. The commissioners voted unanimously to ask state highway authorities to return the speed limit to 35 mph on the stretch of Manatee Avenue from the west end of the AMI Bridge to Gulf Drive. That limit had been lowered to 25 mph at the end of January by the Florida Department of Transportation. The speed limit crossing the bridge also was lowered from 45 mph to 35 mph.

Problem was, nobody in the city was informed of the change. Instead, everyone woke up to find new speed limit signs had been installed by the FDOT overnight.

True, Police Chief Bill Tokajer and Mayor Dan Johnson had talked to state authorities last year about possibly lowering the speed limit. Both had expected the state to do a traffic study and make it available for public discussion before any action was taken.

Neither of those things were done by FDOT, however, leaving city officials and Island motorists tapping their brakes, scratching their heads and wondering what just happened.

And so, the city has asked that the limits be returned to what they were before the state's midnight maneuvers. In addition, the motion asks the state to change the speed limit along Gulf Drive near Anna Maria Elementary School back to 35 mph from 25 mph. The speed limit there was reduced in May 2016 by Chief Tokajer, acting as the city's traffic engineer, also without commission input. The proposal also asks the state to conduct a traffic study on both areas and then revisit the issue of safety once that study has been done and discussed publicly.

There's nothing unreasonable about that request. Perhaps a traffic study can shed light on the debate over which is better on Island roads - 25 mph vs. 35 mph. That remains to be seen.

Ironic, though, that while we discuss the relative merits of various speed limits, none of that has much effect on Island motorists right now. We're all stuck in traffic gridlock and crawling along at 5 mph anyway.


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