The goal of starting a water taxi service connecting Bradenton and Palmetto and the beaches of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key has resurfaced and seems to be getting closer to reality.
For at least the fourth time this year, the concept was discussed Monday at a meeting of the Manatee County Tourism Development Board.
Ed Chiles, the longest serving member of the tourism board, asked if the concept is any closer or if the board is just going to keep talking about it?
This question was for Mark Stuckey, COO of Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, but also Elliott Falcione, Executive Director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and other members of the Chiles Board of Directors. .
Stuckey admitted that the airport is very close to Sarasota Bay and a water taxi is not impossible.
Falcione said his office has met with water taxi operators and is set to report to County Administrator Scott Hopes on the viability of starting a water taxi service.
“It’s bold, but I think we have to be bold. We are not going to build another bridge to the island in our lifetime. We have to do something to not get stuck, ”Chiles said.
Mainland heavy vehicle traffic from Bradenton to Anna Maria Island and limited beachside parking have helped put the long-discussed water taxi service back in the spotlight.
A proposed water taxi service would allow travelers to board at Palmetto and Bradenton and travel to Anna Maria City Pier, Waterline Resort in Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach Pier, and vice versa.
The Bradenton Beach docks at 200 Bridge Street can now accommodate a water taxi service, Falcione said.
Misty Servia, president of the tourism board, said the proposal has also been presented to the Sarasota / Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, which recommends priorities for spending transportation funding in the two-county region, as well. than federal officials.
Meanwhile, the town of Anna Maria Island now has a contract with Mote Marine Laboratory to bring a marine education center to the Anna Maria City Pier, 100 N. Bay Blvd.
A shell building at the end of the pier would become a center of learning for tourists and locals.
“The timeline that Mote has committed to is an opening date of March 2022. The next step in the process is for Mote to provide my office with a set of plans that I will present to our city board for approval,” said the Mayor of Anna Maria, Dan Murphy. said Monday in an email about the prospects for commissioning the maritime education center.
“Based on a meeting I had with Mote this morning, we expect these plans to be submitted in two or three weeks. Murphy said.
This story was originally published 18 October 2021 3:03 pm.