Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Traffic Ringling 'Pauseway'

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Traffic Ringling 'Pauseway'

Article excerpt

Everyone loves the view from the Ringling Causeway -- that dramatic curve sweeping over Sarasota Bay -- but not when it's framed by a string of red taillights.

Traffic makes sunset a little less glamorous and a lot more glum.

Waiting in traffic reminds people that the winter tourist season has arrived and congestion will only get worse over the next two or three months.

"For the first time last week, it took me an hour to get home," Carter Donovan, a Longboat Key store manager who lives

in Palmer Ranch, said recently. "That, to me, is an indication of the season."

Complaining about traffic remains a popular sport along the Gulf Coast, but Sarasota snowbirds offer a different perspective.

Florida traffic, like Florida weather, is relative.

Is a 50-degree day chilly or invigorating? Is a 20-minute delay vexing or routine?

Even the worst whiner must admit that the slowest day in Sarasota is quicker than the fastest one in Miami. And it's nothing like commuting in California, much less New York.

Fuggedaboudit.

Rosemary Walmsley, a winter visitor from Princeton, N.J., laughs at the very idea of traffic in Sarasota.

"Oh, it's nothing," she says. "Absolutely nothing. To me, it's very quiet."

Gray or sunny?

On Anna Maria Island, smart drivers time their trips to and from Bradenton.

On a gray weekday, cars barely pause as they cruise down Cortez Road. In Bradenton Beach, there are parking paces available in front of the restaurants on Bridge Street.

"Traffic right now, this is good," says Ron LeBeau of Indianapolis. "You hit this at 10 a.m. on a sunny weekend, that's trouble."

He can be patient, even philosophical, when it comes to traffic, but a related subject sets him off.

"There's no parking!" LeBeau says, his voice rising for emphasis. "Even if you get on the island, there's no place to park!"

Chuck Eckler, a Kentucky snowbird in Bradenton Beach, drives to the city of Bradenton almost every day to play golf or run errands. He lives in the Pines Trailer Park just across the Cortez drawbridge.

That's his secret weapon.

"You can hear it, you see -- you can hear the bridge going up," Eckler says. "And I can walk over and see the bridge and the traffic flow. …

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