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Mayor: New traffic strategies show gains in 2016 season

By Staff | May 11, 2016

New traffic tactics garnered improvements for the first three months of the year, according to Sanibel City Council reports.

Mayor Kevin Ruane said as many people know they have gone through a communication effort with technology, behavior modification and hardscape, which each played a role in trying to ease traffic. He said going into the efforts he was never under the illusion that they were going to cure traffic.

“It’s just hard to go to 6- to 7,000 people to 40,000 people. We are averaging an excess of 10,000 people coming over the causeway,” he said.

Ruane said although he thinks the key communication strategies started a little late, they were certainly effective this season, especially when teaming up with the VSB and the hotel association.

“I’m proud to say that the traffic counts have not increased whatsoever. When you look at some of the traffic counts in our study and package, you can clearly indicate we were down in January, down marginally in February when you take into consideration there was an extra day, and we were just up less than a quarter percent (for March). The three months combined, we certainly stopped the increase. We were certainly down in that regard,” he said.

In January 2015, the Sanibel Causeway vehicular count was 307,302, compared to 299,519 in 2016. The count in February 2015 was 300,449, compared to 309,434 in 2016, which included a leap year adjustment. The adjustment included a daily traffic count for 2015 and 2016 for February. In March 2015, the Sanibel Causeway vehicular count was 355,695 compared to 356,633 in 2016.

One of the traffic efforts was putting up cameras at key intersections to show the flow of traffic, which Ruane said he received positive feedback about.

The traffic message was heard by the people through technology and the hotels helped in spreading the message “come to Sanibel early and stay late.” The city is still working with the county for designated areas to put up signage.

Another follow-up meeting will be held with the stakeholders in May.

Ruane and Vice Mayor Mick Denham are members of the metropolitan planning organization, which includes the Florida Department of Transportation and the Federal Department of Transportation.

He said they determined that 18 potential intersections were candidates likely to pursue the viability of a roundabout in 18 particular areas. Sanibel came out as number one in improving traffic and enhancing safety.

“The path will be to look at the information that is being put together,” Ruane said. “I’m not advocating one way or another, but this is someone else’s dime. This is someone else’s information.”

He said the reason you go through the process is there are experts from the state and the federal level, computer visualization and technology that provide information.

Ruane also said they collected input from 3,000 traffic surveys done at hotspots.

“We envision this to be a couple year process. We continue to understand best practices,” he said. “So far we are making some incremental progress.”

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.