The creation of the Strategic Mobility Plan, referenced in this previous post from October 2014, includes a substantial community engagement effort to gather ideas from residents of Sarasota and Manatee Counties on how to improve the region’s transportation system. One of the ways we have been reaching out to the public is by going out into the community and listening to the perspectives of residents in small focus group discussions. We have hosted 21 focus groups throughout the region, from northern Manatee County to southern Sarasota County, and on a variety of topics relating to transportation. See below for the entire list of focus groups. Click here to see the map in more detail.
In order to get the conversation started, focus group attendees responded to a four question survey that included questions similar to those presented on the Strategic Mobility Plan Website. The comments we heard during the focus group discussions centered on a desire for more transportation options such as more frequent transit, safer bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and other modes like water taxis. Participants also recommended developing a holistic vision for the region, studying proposed developments for their long-term impacts on traffic congestion, improving coordination among the many jurisdictions in the region, and improving traffic through technology.
When participants were asked what one transportation project they would fund in the next five years if they had the money to do so, we heard a range of answers from residents such as improving public transit with more frequent service and better amenities (covered bus shelters and bus schedules at bus stops), a fully-integrated multimodal network, walkable cities, roundabouts, an expressway east of I-75, better technology to manage traffic congestion, and making developers pay for all necessary road improvements.
We have documented all of the comments we received during the focus groups, in addition to any other public comments received during the update, and we are currently working on incorporating these ideas and suggestions into the Strategic Mobility Plan.
The focus groups held included:
City of Palmetto - Community Redevelopment Agency
City of Bradenton – Central Community Redevelopment Agency
Manatee County - Lakewood Ranch Business Association
Manatee County – Federation of Homeowner Associations
Manatee County – Parrish Civic Association
Manatee County – Lakewood Ranch District Directors
Manatee County – Local Coordinating Board for Transportation Disadvantaged
Manatee County - Manatee Chamber of Commerce
City of Sarasota - North Sarasota and Newtown
City of Sarasota - City Council of Neighborhood Associations
City of Sarasota - Condominiums on the Bay Association
City of Sarasota - Downtown Condominium Association
Sarasota County - Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce
Sarasota County – Local Coordinating Board for Transportation Disadvantaged
Sarasota County – Englewood Community Redevelopment Agency
Sarasota County – Council of Neighborhood Associations
City of Venice - Chamber of Commerce
City of North Port - Chamber of Commerce
Focus Group for Local and Regional Environmental Interests
Focus Group for Local and Regional Freight Interests
Sarasota/Manatee MPO’s Bicycle Pedestrian Trails Advisory Committee