Longboat Key, Florida | May 23rd, 2017 – Perhaps, we can now strike out traffic congestion as a potential drawback to the appreciation of residential property values on Longboat Key. Some recent solutions to untangle bottlenecks on local roadways and bridges appear already working to some extent, judging from some observations of the past peak season in April.
Our good friend, Town Manager Dave Bullock, observed that although the traffic volume was heavy, the last season’s traffic situation didn’t look as bad as the two prior years. In recent months, the town has been continuously negotiating with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and other local agencies for traffic abatement solutions.
Some Helpful Projects
What might have helped this season, Dave said, were the signal changes that the FDOT made at the intersections of U.S. 41 with Fruitville Road and with Gulfstream Avenue, two critical junctions to and from the barrier islands.
The president of the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce, Gail Loefgren, agrees with Dave’s observation. “Traffic was not terrible this year, so I think that tells us something,” the Observer quoted her as saying. She further noted that tourist tax collections and hotel occupancy rates in January were near the totals last year, indicating that we have about the same number of visitors but lesser congestion on our roadways.
Besides the FDOT’s efforts, there are other notable initiatives during the past peak season which helped lessen cars on the roads to and from the barrier islands. One is the free trolley rides which started in March on Siesta Key, with runs from 8:00 a.m. up to midnight Monday to Sunday. The trips are at 20-minute intervals during the peak hours of 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and at 30-minute gaps outside those times.
Impact of Water Taxis
It was also in March that a weekend water taxi service to Longboat Key was launched from the Bradenton Beach City Pier on Anna Maria Island. A cruise operator, Captain Jeff Stephens, initiated this service called Gulf Islands Water Shuttle, using a 27-foot Carolina skiff aptly named as Island Hopper.
Good for 20 passengers, this vessel initially provides four trips on Saturdays and Sundays, but Captain Stephens plans to operate the water taxi daily in the next peak season. From Bradenton City Pier, this service runs to Coquina Beach then onward to Longboat Key’s Mar Vista and Whitney Beach Plaza.
Captain Stephens has an arrangement with Whitney Beach Plaza for his Longboat Key passengers to park there. The water taxi’s arrival and departure area is at the seawall and canal behind the Longbeach Café in the plaza. This alternative transport mode to the northern end of the town notably creates an added charm for the open houses of sellers at nearby condo properties, such as Sea Pines, Beach Walk and Whitney Beach.
Bayfront Park, Moorings Next?
Another water taxi operation that we may soon enjoy is that of Adventure Away, also a Bradenton Beach-based cruise service provider. It will likewise employ a 20-passenger Carolina skiff with stops not only at Mar Vista and Whitney Beach Plaza but also south at Bayfront Park. Adventure Away hopes to hook up this water taxi service with a bike-sharing operation.
Longboat Key Moorings on the town’s south end is likewise on the radar screen of Paradise Boat Tours which recently got approval in Sarasota to operate a water taxi service from the city to Bradenton Beach. Besides trips to Anna Maria and south Longboat, this ferry operation is also eying connections to City Island, near Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium as well as trips to St. Armands Circle and Siesta Key.
The dynamics of the transportation around the barrier islands indeed looks getting more and more favorable for selling or buying a home in Longboat Key. We have more to share on these and related developments, so feel free to contact the Kepecz-Hays Team if you got a property to buy or sell.