St. Armands

Residents Association

Barrier Island Traffic Study

The Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization ( conducted a Barrier Islands Traffic Study in 2020 (link).  

What is an MPO?

The Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is the regional transportation planning entity for Sarasota and Manatee Counties. MPOs are established by state and federal laws and through interlocal agreements to provide a process for local governments within the region to coordinate with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The MPO planning process is continuing, comprehensive and cooperative.

The Sarasota/Manatee MPO is governed by a 17-member apportioned Board comprised of elected officials representing both counties, nine (9) cities (including one Sarasota City Commissioner), and a representative of the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 1 Secretary serves as a non-voting advisor.

MPOs are established throughout the US and had their genesis in the 1950’s and 60’s with the development of the Interstate Highway System and passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962 to carry out federal transportation planning requirements. Title 23 of the United States Code provides that a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) be designated for each urbanized area with a population of more than 50,000 individuals. 

In the study, key sections of roadways were graded for "Level of Service" (LOS) based on the ability of traffic to traverse at different times of day and on weekdays vs. weekends and for different directions of travel.  Grades are just like in school where "A" is the best grade and "F" is a failing grade.

State Road 789 which includes the John Ringling Bridge, runs through St. Armands Circle, and runs north through Longboat Key, was designated "LOS D or >" in the St. Armands vicinity, which means it received an overall grade of "D", "E", or "F".

For example, here is the grading for the intersection of State Road 789 and Ken Thompson Parkway, which is that section of the road that connects St. Armands Key to Longboat Key, near Ken Thompson Park on City Island.  The overall rating was "F" for ALL day and time categories.

What can be done about this?

The traffic study provided short, medium, and long term recommendations for several different locations on the barrier islands.  Here are the recommendations (link) that are most relevant to St. Armands Key:

Short term:

  • Additional coordination for parking as this area provides a projected shortfall of 386 +/- spaces at typical peak weekend demand periods

  • Pedestrian Managers to increase capacity during peak season platooning of Pedestrians

  • Add pavement markings and advanced signage to warn drivers of upcoming lane drops and lane designations

  • Provide improved wayfinding at decision points

  • Elimination of parking spaces with operational conflicts with intersections to improve traffic flow

  • Eliminate Back-to-back crosswalks

  • Consider a 3rd lane in the NE quadrant allowing for: 1 WB to NB bypass lane, 1 shared WB to NB / WB to WB lane, and 1 WB to SB or EB lane.

Medium term:

  • If desirable by the community, pursue available park-and-ride program opportunities and locations to accommodate typical peak demand activity. Continue with plans to charge a fee to park

  • New bridge at SR 789/Ringling/Coon Key Bridge and should include a flexible lane added to bridge typical section to accommodate future transit

  • On the John Ringling Bridge:  Potential counter-flow options in terms of capacity and operational ability to implement on (instead of two lanes in each direction at all times, have 3 lanes in one direction and 1 lane in the other direction at different peak times)

  • Water shuttle between downtown and City Island

Long term:

      • Develop an electronic wayfinding system that enables motorists to take advantage of remote parking locations located off-island

      • Provide a street car transit service between the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center and St. Armands Circle and Lido Beach

      • Provide an aerial tram (suspended gondola) from downtown to St. Armands Circle and "create an experience" as a way to get to the island

St. Armands Residents Association

P.O. Box 2482, Sarasota, FL  34230

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