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Year in Review – City of Sarasota places roundabouts

Longboat Key leaders have long voiced concerns that the roundabout planned at US 41 and Gulfstream Avenue will slow traffic, create back-ups along the bridge and possibly impede evacuation attempts.

The champions of roundabouts include the City of Sarasota and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), which maintains the state-controlled roadway.

Longboat officials, including Commissioner Jack Daly, have argued that FDOT should first thoroughly monitor the effectiveness of the extra third turn lane that was added to the existing signaled intersection for motorists turning north from Gulfstream Avenue to determine how well it performs during season when traffic is at its peak.

FDOT, although listening and entertaining Longboat’s position, has not waivered in its plan which includes starting construction of the roundabout in the Fall of 2020. The City of Sarasota is not considering anything other than installing roundabouts along US 41 as part of its connectivity plan.

The FDOT says that US 41 currently creates a barrier and bifurcates Downtown Sarasota and the Bayfront. Sarasota officials want to create a Bayfront that has more pedestrian friendly connectivity to the Downtown area.

Toward that goal, FDOT maintains that the roundabouts will slow traffic and create a more pedestrian friendly environment.  Pedestrian and bicycle-centric policy has been central to City of Sarasota and FDOT planning in recent years.

Another pedestrian initiative is the current Multi-Use Recreational Trail (MURT) that is being installed between Coon Key Bridge and St. Armands Circle on the north side of the roadway. This project is concurrent with the removal of the Australian Pines.

The latest construction schedule shows that there is a plan to advertise construction bids for the project in May of 2020 and a contract is due to be awarded sometime in July of 2020.

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