Officials unveiled a new study Monday about how to put together a successful Park-and-Ride system to extend the reach of transit services.
"Park-and-Ride is an effective strategy to extend the reach of the public transportation system," said Whit Blanton, vice president of the Renaissance Planning Group of Orlando, a consultant that authored the study for the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.
"Having Park-and-Ride helps people access public transportation more readily without extending service," Blanton said.
The draft report, called the Regional Park-and-Ride Strategic Implementation Plan, said such a system can be particularly helpful for commuters and others who carpool or use transit, and can help solve serious traffic congestion and parking problems economically.
It recommended seven sites across Manatee and Sarasota counties that analytically appear to have the best chances of success.
- L3 Communications Development at Cattlemen Road and Sawgrass Road.
- University Town Center West, University Parkway and North Cattlemen Road.
- Right-of-way at Interstate 75 at North River Road Interchange.
- Kmart shopping center at U.S. 301 and 60th Avenue East.
- Sarasota Pavilion Shopping Center, U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road.
- General Spaatz Boulevard parking lot, U.S. 41 and General Spaatz Boulevard.
- Rights-of-way at U.S. 301 and State Road 70.
"We think all can be implemented in the next couple of years," said Blanton.
Also included were sites at Palmetto Publix; at U.S. 41 and 10th Street West/10th Avenue West and Riverside Drive; a vacant lot at Airport Circle and Rental Car Road; and Westfield Sarasota Square Mall at U.S. 41 and South Beneva Road.
The study proposed two sites as potential locations for Park-and-Ride facilities for Anna Maria Island where parking has posed serious problems for municipalities struggling with thousands of tourists.
It suggested Beachway Plaza at Manatee Avenue and 75th Street West, and Paradise Bay Plaza at Cortez Road and 75th Street West.
The latter might not be a useful site because the parking lot is full almost all weekends and weekdays, too, said Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie.
"I don't see how you can get any kind of Park-and-Ride in there at all," he said.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.
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