Why Is Anna Maria Sending Folks to the Streets?


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, July 19th, 2016 -Anna Maria Island has a scheme that wants people out of cars and on to the streets. But don’t be alarmed as this is positive on prospects for Manatee and Sarasota homes for sale. Launched in the island recently was a multimodal transit system featuring, amongst others, a bike sharing and parking service. This is to encourage car-free travel and thus reduce traffic and parking problems in the island’s seven-mile stretch.

Called Ride AMI, this system was initiated by local businesses spearheaded by Adventures Away, a booking and concierge center based at Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach, which also has a rental center on the mainland at Cortez Street. As part of this park-and-ride service, several bike-share stations were set up on the island. The sites of these stations besides Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach are the AMI Community Center, Coquina Beach, and Holmes Beach.

Other major components of Ride AMI include a Bridge Street shuttle interconnected with the island’s free trolley transit system. Another component is the Aqua Express Water Taxi Service that picks up customers at the island’s south end at Coquina Beach between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. It has stops at four restaurants: AMI Oyster Bar on Bridge Street, Cortez Kitchen, Swordfish Grill, and MarVista.

Ferry Service Mulled

Why Is Anna Maria Sending Folks to the Streets?

Even bigger gains versus traffic and parking headaches can be achieved through water-based transport should a planned regional ferry service materializes. Recently, HMS Ferries Inc., which operates the St. Johns River Ferry in Atlantic Beach, expressed interest in having a similar operation in Anna Maria Island and Bradenton.

The marine transportation company will start in October 2016 a six-month ferry pilot project which will run 150-passenger catamarans between St. Petersburg and Tampa. This trial run has drawn keen interest not only from officials of Anna Maria Island but also from their counterparts in Bradenton and Palmetto. In the island, only Bradenton Beach has a pier with a dock with the capacity to handle a ferry service.

Extensive Bike Trail Set

There’s more to look forward to for visitors and local residents as well as prospective buyers of Anna Maria Island homes for sale. Plans are moving forward for the AMI SUN Trail which will run from the Anna Maria City Pier to Longboat Pass.

This will be a shared-use trail enabling folks to bike, walk, and drive the entire length of the island. Its setup calls for two 11-foot drive lanes flanked by a 10-foot bile lane on one side, while the other side will have an 8-foot pedestrian walkway. The main corridors being considered for this trail are Gulf, Palm and Marina drives and along SR 789 south to Coquina Beach.

Fund Support Sought

Funding sources are already being explored for the AMI SUN Trail which has already been included in the Manatee-Sarasota Metropolitan Planning Organization’s priority list. Besides sourcing funds from the Florida Department of Transportation, local officials are also eying a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Bagging such a grant should bring added delight for property owners in the Coquina Beach area southern end of Anna Maria Island. Also covered in the grant application being finalized is funding for improvements on stormwater protection on the southern end of Coquina Beach. It also seeks funding for the upgrade of the Coquina North Boat Ramp which with more frequent users can help ease Anna Maria’s car traffic.