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Longboat may hire consultant over feared Sarasota roundabout

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

It is no surprise or secrete that the Town of Longboat Key Commission has expressed extreme concern over Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) plan to install a roundabout at the base of the Ringling Bridge and U.S. 41.

The roundabout is slated to be built within three years, funding is in place and the City of Sarasota is completely in support of the plan. But for Longboat Key, the prospect of any road design that could impede exiting the island is troubling.

Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Daly implored the FDOT last Spring to consider evaluating whether the newly created third left turn lane and improvements at U.S. 41 and Fruitville Road will alleviate the historically traffic-plagued intersection.

Daly suggested that it might make both economic and engineering sense to wait and evaluate instead of simply moving forward with the roundabout. He was not met with support by FDOT officials who were on hand to talk about the coming changes.

The City of Sarasota has already installed roundabouts along Ringling Boulevard and other thoroughfares and a series of roundabouts is scheduled to be installed not only at the base of the bridge at U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue, but also 10th Street as well as Fruitville Road.

To alleviate the concerns raised by Daly, the Longboat Commission moved forward with a request for proposals to hire a traffic engineer to review and analyze FDOT’s data and conclusions that support the roundabout at U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue.

Public Works Director Isaac Brownman will ask the commission next Tuesday at its regular 1 p.m. meeting, if it wishes to hire CDM Smith Traffic Engineering Services at a cost not to exceed $22,760 to review and analyze FDOT’s roundabout modeling.

Brownman, in a memo to Town Manager Tom Harmer, said the following should be considered by the commission in its decision on whether to hire the consultant.

• The findings will not likely change the forward momentum of the project

• The findings may help clarify the degree to w hich concerns may or may not be valid regarding the installation of a roundabout as compared to the triple left turn lanes.

• The findings can potentially be used to advance improvements to the roundabout design that is in progress.

• Once the roundabout is constructed, the findings can be used to help compare actual conditions against the FDOT study data.

The money to pay for the consultant will come out of the Commission Contingency Fund, which is comprised of about $190,000.

CDM Smith will not generate any new data, but will review the modeling and data used by FDOT. CDM Smith in its scope of services exhibit says it will then provide a memorandum summarizing its review findings along with comments.

The consultant writes that it will visit the intersection to become familiar with the existing conditions.

Last but not least, the consultant will provide the town with a PowerPoint presentation to summarize the review of the analysis in what the consultant says “in a concise and easy to understand manner.” The entire review will be completed within two weeks after the consultant receives the data to analyze.

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3 Responses for “Longboat may hire consultant over feared Sarasota roundabout”

  1. Ross P. Alander says:

    As a traveler in that area I am for the roundabout. I am through that area quite a bit. Will the consultant tell the LBK Commissioners what they what to here? Here is a thought that government rarely does, ask the people that actually use that intersection how they feel. I understand that that is a stretch, but what the Hell ask.
    Ross Cedars West

  2. Jim Germer says:

    Save the money on a consultant. I’m totally for the roundabout.

  3. paul ahern says:

    The consultant will be viewing the proposed roundabout ” out of season”. The area should be viewed “in season” for a proper consultant report to L.K. There are places where roundabouts work very well with normal traffic. I do not believe a roundabout at this location, in season, will work.

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