Traffic Season



In school, we learned about winter, spring, summer and my favorite, fall.

But when my wife and I relocated to Florida in 2012, we quickly learned “THE SEASON” had an entirely different connotation.

Here, “THE SEASON” means that time of year when it seems half of the rest of the world comes to visit.

Locally, THE SEASON begins slowly each year as seasonal residents check in to open their “winter homes,” many even before Thanksgiving.

Of course, we have no problem handling the people who arrive in mass by January, but the cars, well, that’s a bit more challenging. Some background.

According to the Census bureau, the City of Sarasota’s full-time population is now about 57,000 people, a 16-percent increase since 1980. Despite our impressive downtown skyline, the city has only grown by 9,000 over the past 38 years.

Although the City has not grown much since 1980, Sarasota and Manatee County have grown by a whopping 130 percent. Since 1980, our two-county transportation planning region has morphed from 350,000 full time residents to 804,000, a gain approaching 500,000 people in the past 38 years.

This, in a state that has grown from 9.7 million residents to 21 million, becoming the third most populated state.

In Sarasota, we’ve hired a new team of planners to do all we can do to manage seasonal traffic, along with the 4 million annual visitors we experience each year.

In the bigger picture, it will take a regional approach and perhaps require improved transit options.

But when you’re caught up in the inevitable seasonal traffic jam, take a moment to remind yourself, it’s a great time of year to be in Sarasota, with so much to do and so few pot holes.

And have confidence our public works crews are committed, and have a perfect record so far, of keeping our roads clear of ice and snow, all season, to keep things moving.

When it comes to seasonal traffic, as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know, the Rest of the Story.”

I look forward to seeing you, around town.

Tom Barwin is the Sarasota city manager

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