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Sarasota News Leader January 4, 2013 Page 76 Siesta Seen A little more than a year ago, when she was chairwoman of the County Commission, Patterson sent a letter to Billy Hattaway, then the new Florida Department of Transportation secretary for District One ��� which includes Sarasota County ��� asking on behalf of the commission that FDOT consider Olson���s request. Although the Florida Department of Transportation this fall installed six new crosswalks along an approximately 1.2 mile stretch of the road, FDOT officials have said traffic data does not support reducing the speed limit from 35 mph to 30 mph. Olson was successful in getting the speed limit lowered on Beach Road between Ocean Boulevard and the Midnight Pass Road intersection near St. Boniface Episcopal Church, but that is a county-maintained segment. During an FDOT open house about the crosswalk construction, held on Sept. 17, Cindy Clemmons, public information director for FDOT, explained to me that the department���s engineers in Sarasota County had reviewed the data about traffic patterns on the affected portion of Midnight Pass Road at the request of residents. take another traffic analysis of the speed limit situation. An Excelsior resident, Olson has been a strong advocate for helping people walk safely from the bay side of the island to the Gulf of Mexico side ��� and back, of course ��� especially during high season. Before I could reach Patterson for comments, JoAnn May, the new communications officer for District One, told me there had been ���no formal discussion or correspondence about transferring roadways from the state to the county.��� May added in her Dec. 18 email, ���Department and county staff have spoken informally about things the county would like to do ��� reduce the speed limit and add crosswalks ��� and that the county could make those decisions and take those actions, for example, if it owned the road.��� More recently, Patterson told me, people have approached her about lowering the speed limit on the portion of the road with the new crosswalks because that would enable them to operate golf carts legally on that segment. Patterson has worries about the safety of such transportation, she said, not to mention the That data had not proven compelling enough, fact that Siesta has quite a few residents who she said, to warrant the lowering of the speed are not retirees and/or seasonal inhabitants. limit on that section of Midnight Pass Road ���It���s not just a resort community,��� she pointwhere the crosswalks were going to be ined out. A lot of people have regular jobs off stalled. the island, she added, and they would become However, Clemmons said, after the cross- frustrated with much slower-moving traffic. walks were completed, FDOT would under- ���So I���m not enthusiastic about these requests.���

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