Looking Toward the Future of Florida’s Transportation Service

Looking Toward the Future of Florida's Transportation ServiceThe population in the Sarasota-Manatee region is continuing to grow today. As it does so it’s important to make sure to plan for adequate roads, bridges, and transportation services.

This is why the Florida Department of Transportation and the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization held “Transform Tomorrow” at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee earlier in 2019 to discuss transportation needs through 2045. During this conference the MPO’s long range transportation plan was presented, explaining how the area can qualify to receive federal funding for their transportation projects.

Topics Discussed at Transform Tomorrow

Several topics were outlined that need to be addressed as the plan takes shape. This includes things like affordable housing, environmental protection, and the rising sea level. Although these things are important, it’s vital for them to be financially feasible because not every project that the public wants to see accomplished can be funded by the local government. Conference presenters also emphasized the importance of linking future transportation decisions to decisions regarding the use of land in the future (e.g. where development will be expected and discouraged).

Each of these priorities must then be assigned to one of seven categories:

  • Safety, security, and preparedness: Since the National Complete Streets Coalition ranked Sarasota as the fourth deadliest metro area for pedestrians, the goal here is to work toward no traffic accidents. As such goals include addressing issues at 57th Avenue West, Florida Boulevard, 49th Avenue Drive, Bayshore Gardens Parkway, 60th Avenue West, Orlando Avenue, Jacaranda Boulevard, River Road, Center Road, and Blackburn Point Road – main thoroughfares for transportation services in the area.
  • Bridges, infrastructure, and resiliency: Goals here include replacing the DeSoto bridge (whether by adding capacity or replacing it all together) and planning for storm surges and rising sea levels.
  • Mobility, congestion, and reliability: Here plans include improving mobility and reducing congestion by widening roads and including both sidewalks and bike lanes.
  • Technology and autonomy: Developers must now consider both automated and connected vehicles, as well as modernizing traffic signals, reducing congestion and keeping buses on schedule.
  • Economy, tourism, and freight: It’s important to accommodate the workforce, alongside vacationers and the movement of freight. Travel times for transportation services must be considered especially along Interstate 75, U.S. 301, I-275, University Parkway and U.S. 41.
  • Equity and livability: Many officials emphasized the importance of having workforce housing near employment centers continuing on to say that these areas should provide opportunities for people to walk, bike, or take a bus to essential services instead of depending on cars.
  • Environment and conservation: These things are seen to be in direct conflict with transportation service which is why it’s important to strike a balance here. As such, besides expanding traffic capacity it’s also important to improve air quality, promote energy conservation, preserve historical and archaeological resources, and protect habitats such as wetlands and the endangered species that live there.

Looking Towards the Future

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Picture Credit: geralt