Vol. 14 No. 25 - April 16, 2014
The old saw of "Wow, sure is hot!" has been replaced this season on Anna Maria Island with "Wow, sure is crowded!" as any motorist who has tried to drive on or off the Island at the wrong time of day can attest.
The traffic problem, of course, is not a new issue out here nor in town or many places throughout Manatee County. Gridlock on our two drawbridges and the main roads bisecting the Island has vexed locals and visitors alike for years, especially during season and on holidays.
But it does seem to have intensified this year, as effective marketing and promotion has drawn record numbers of tourists to the area.
Finding a reasonable solution to the problem is easier said than done. One idea being floated comes from Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti, who has proposed building a gondola system linking the Island to the mainland, then constructing a three-story parking garage/retail center at the Public Beach in an effort to corral the influx of vehicles we've experienced.
While these suggestions do represent a "thinking-outside-the-box" approach, we have to agree with critics of the plans. The gondola, in particular, strikes us as a fanciful idea more appropriate for theme parks than AMI. We also wonder about the logistics of such a such a system - wouldn't the wires holding the gondola cars have to be 65 feet high to allow sailboats to pass beneath? We question, as well, the wisdom of a massive parking structure being built at the Public Beach. A better approach might be to erect such buildings on the mainland and shuttle visitors to the Island, leaving the cars and congestion behind. After all, are there really too many people here or is it more a question of too many vehicles?
Finally, thinking long term, a third bridge from the mainland to north Longboat Key is an idea worth revisiting, though it obviously would do nothing to help immediately. But you have to start somewhere.
In the meantime, remember that season will wind down soon and the more relaxed pace of summer won't be far behind.
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