By a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Sarasota County Commission expressed support for a Florida Department of Transportation plan to construct six pedestrian crosswalks on Midnight Pass Road.
Although FDOT announced two weeks ago that, based on a survey of residents, that it would construct four crosswalks on the segment of that road between the Stickney Point Road and Beach Road intersections, new pedestrian crossing counts led the department this week to add two more to the plan.
FDOT spokeswoman Lauren Hatchell said earlier this month that FDOT would begin working on the design of the project in May.
Commissioner Nora Patterson, who lives on the Key, told her fellow board members Tuesday that she had received a phone call the previous evening from FDOT Traffic Operations Engineer L.K. Nandam. He said FDOT staff had completed new pedestrian counts on the 1.2-mile segment of Midnight Pass Road, and the data illustrated the two extra crosswalks were justified.
Therefore, Patterson said, FDOT was planning to construct the crosswalks in the vicinity of the following condominium complexes.
• Midnight Cove
• Excelsior and Siesta Harbor
• Palm Bay Club
• Sarasota Surf & Racquet Club and Boca Siesta
• Gulf & Bay Club
The two new crosswalks, Patterson noted, are those near the Gulf & Bay Club and the Sarasota Surf & Racquet Club and Boca Siesta.
She explained that the crosswalks would be painted ovals with reflective lights at their centers.
“I guess I’m slightly nervous,” Patterson said, “because now there are quite a lot of crosswalks (planned for Midnight Pass Road in spite of some residents’ opposition).”
A number of condo residents have been fearful of any pedestrian-safety measures constructed on the road, because drivers often use the center lane to make left-hand turns onto the road, especially during high-traffic times.
Patterson pointed out that the Siesta Key Condominium Council is continuing to oppose the crosswalks. It sent the commissioners a letter two weeks ago asking them to join it in that stance.
The council also has continued to push for the lowering of the speed limit on that part of Midnight Pass Road from 35 mph to 30 mph.
“And 35 is a pretty high speed limit,” Patterson said, with so many pedestrians trying to cross the road during season.
Although FDOT’s new District 1 secretary recently turned down the County Commission’s request for the lower speed limit, Patterson said, FDOT officials have promised to conduct more research on the proposal, especially in regard to how well the 30 mph speed limit is working on Beach Road in the vicinity of the public beach.