Multi-modal gets us moving more quickly at less cost


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Multi-modal highway designs considering all users with as good or better travel time can complete improved mobility to more people sooner at less cost -- the mission of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization. Herald Tribune Dec 13 Guest Column.

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Multi-modal gets us moving more quickly at less cost

  1. 1. This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers here or use the "Reprints" tool that appears above any article. Order a reprint of this article now. Printed on page A8 Multi-modal will get us moving more quickly at less cost Published: Monday, December 13, 2010 at 1:00 a.m. A tale of two cities you know, each cut by a federal highway: Ten years ago, Sarasota created a 2020 Master Plan to reconnect the Sarasota bayfront to its city, bifurcated since the 1950s by U.S. 41, which was designed as a high-speed highway dedicated to vehicles. Twenty years ago, Venice planned to widen the U.S. 41 Bypass into a six-lane, high-speed highway dedicated to vehicles. Since then, Sarasota completed citizen-involved mobility studies with traffic professionals teaching a "multi-modal" concept thats safer, achieves better mobility for drivers and pedestrians, and doesnt increase travel time. The studies concentrated on managing intersections and creating multi-modal designs that have been proven in the United States. Multi-modal features are described at of 4 12/13/2010 6:34 AM
  2. 2. If funded, Sarasotas U.S. 41 multi-modal corridor, from the University of South Florida to Osprey Avenue, has potential to be the nations longest working demonstration of "context-sensitive" features -- employing roundabouts-in-series to stimulate economic vitality, sustainability and livability while lowering auto insurance rates, increasing property values, saving fuel and reducing air pollution -- without adding lanes. Dominated by vehicles The Venice Bypass plan doesnt do that. Venice has never done a citizen-involved mobility study for the Venice Bypass. Its six-lane, plus turn lanes, plan continues a high-speed, vehicle-dominated artery. If Sarasotas U.S. 41 multi-modal concepts were applied to the Venice Bypass, the Venice area would enjoy improved mobility sooner than the five-year wait it will take to complete intensive widening. Road widening there will not relieve congestion, as the Bypass intersections will still impede traffic flow -- with more accelerating and braking -- and the wider intersections will increase pedestrian risks. The fact that widening does not relieve congestion on a corridor like the Venice Bypass is now being realized in the six-laning of U.S. 301 under way -- a comparable corridor that is interrupted by intersections with stop lights. Officials have said they would not have approved a six-lane U.S. 301 if they had known that todays modern, safer and less-costly multi-modal methods would benefit all users on wheels and on foot. Today, this tale turns a new chapter for these two cities when a choice will be made by the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization: Continue with past practice or choose a state-of-the-art plan? Will the Venice Bypass begin next year buying private property along the roadway2 of 4 12/13/2010 6:34 AM
  3. 3. and perhaps complete the project within five years? Or will Venice pause to conduct a bypass mobility study to address a four-lane corridor disrupted by intersections, just as Sarasota did? Since U.S. 41 is a federal highway, its roadwork needs federal and state fuel taxes and fees funneled through the Florida Department of Transportation. The DOTs spending decisions are directed by the board of the MPO, comprising 15 elected officials from Manatee and Sarasota counties. Held up by costs The MPO decides where the money goes first. The Venice Bypass has been the MPOs top priority since 1991. But it hasnt been done because it costs so much to buy private property to add lanes along 1.2 miles from Bird Bay Drive to Gulf Coast Boulevard. The DOT projects the cost to widen U.S. 41 north and south of Venice Avenue at $54 million. Compare that with the Sarasota bayfront multi-modal plan, which is half the cost of the bypass and would be completed earlier. The MPO expects to receive $14 million a year in federal and state money. The Venice Bypass widening would consume Sarasota Countys entire share for at least the next five years. A Venice Bypass choice means residents in both cities will not see any U.S. 41 traffic-flow improvement until 2016. Drivers through both cities will wait at least that long to feel congestion relief on this arterial route splitting their cities. The Venice Bypass could be an elegant multi-modal segment in a U.S. 41 multi-modal corridor from Palmetto to Charlotte County, as envisioned in the MPOs 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan. Shouldnt $54 million in taxpayer money be based on "best use" rather than the argument "theyve waited so long" to widen the Venice Bypass? Best use is a U.S. 41 multi-modal corridor, through both Sarasota and Venice, which3 of 4 12/13/2010 6:34 AM
  4. 4. would deliver improved mobility to more people sooner at less cost -- the MPOs mission. Rod Warner is past chairman of the MPO Citizens Advisory Committee and participates in TheCITYalliance. This story appeared in print on page A8 Copyright © 2010 — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.4 of 4 12/13/2010 6:34 AM