GIBA discusses petition to change name of Causeway

June 29, 2018
By Marcy Shortuse

At the quarterly meeting of the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority held on Wednesday, June 27, it was discussed that Boca Grande North is petitioning Charlotte County to change the name of the roadway from Boca Grande Causeway to Gasparilla Road.
A member of the Boca Grande North Homeowner’s Association suggested the idea, and letters have already been sent out to residents who live there.
Consensus must also be determined through GIBA, through Eldred’s Marina and through Charlotte County (because of the boat ramp).
The interested parties must provide more information about legal requirements and other necessities before the GIBA board can take any action, so stay tuned on that topic.
The board also discussed the fact that one of the new changes at the tollbooths will be an electronic speed monitor, which is currently in the testing phase.
The trailer will record vehicle speeds and provide trend data for traffic enforcement. The speed limit on the entire Boca Grande Causeway is 35 mph.
The toll collection system replacement is in process. E-Transit is working at their lab in Pennsylvania, procuring the hardware and configuring it for installation. The project is on track to be completed by the start of season.
The Executive Director’s report included traffic and revenue figures for October 17, 2017 through May 18, 2018. Traffic counts are even compared to last year with a corresponding two-percent revenue decrease.
Red tide is having a significant effect on revenue and traffic, GIBA Executive Director Kathy Banson-Verrico said. In the past ten days, overall revenue and traffic have dropped by 13 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
Bridge openings were down 11 percent in April and 39 percent in May.
June bridge openings are down by about 40 percent so far.
Because of the red tide? Banson-Verrico said she isn’t sure, as May’s red tide wasn’t as pronounced as it is now.
The draft for the fiscal year 2019 GIBA budget was reviewed and approved. Revenue was budgeted at an increase of one percent, and expenses were increased by seven percent. The GIBA board approved a long-term debt prepayment of $1.5 million to be made in fiscal year 2018. The GIBA financial committee said they will continue to build cash reserves to fund capital projects and prepay long-term debt.
In other GIBA news, Governance Committee Chairman Lee Major led a discussion regarding Executive Director Kathy Banson-Verrico’s annual review and offered congratulations on her outstanding performance. The board also thanked outgoing member Lee Major for his eight years of service to GIBA, and for returning to Boca Grande each time there was a meeting.