The Sarasota County Commission Tuesday voted unanimously to accept the Sept. 12 recommendation of the county’s Traffic Advisory Council to lower the speed limit from 35 mph to 30 mph on Beach Road from Midnight Pass Road to the Village.
Efrain Duque, manager of the county’s Mobility/Traffic Engineering Office, told the Pelican Press the new signs probably would go up before the end of the year. His staff had been working with the Public Works Department staff, he said, to erect those signs at the same time the county installs radar signs on that stretch of road.
The radar signs, which flash the speeds of oncoming vehicles, are intended to encourage drivers to obey posted speed limits, Duque earlier had explained to the Pelican Press.
The vote was a victory for the Siesta Key Condominium Association, which had brought the matter before the TAC in September.
Walt Olson, the association’s vice president, declined an opportunity Tuesday to address the County Commission about the request.
Commission Chairwoman Nora Patterson, who lives on the Key, told him, “I don’t think it’ll be necessary, to be perfectly honest.”
After the vote, Olson said he was happy with the board’s action. Regarding Duque’s comments about installing the new speed limit and radar signs simultaneously, Olson said, “I think it would be excellent to do both of them at the same time.”
In a memo prepared for the County Commission, James K. Harriott Jr., executive director of the county’s Public Works Department, wrote that studies prepared by his staff had shown the average annual daily traffic count for Beach Road between Ocean Boulevard and Canal Road was 8,635 vehicles. The 85th percentile speed eastbound was 36.4 mph, he added, while the westbound speed was 34.9 mph.
On Beach Road between Canal Road and Midnight Pass Road, the annual average daily traffic count found a volume of 10,011 vehicles. The 85th percentile speed eastbound was 40.1 mph, Harriott wrote in the memo; for the westbound traffic, the speed was 39.5 mph.
“Staff informed the (Traffic Advisory Council) that the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices recommends that posted speeds be within 5 mph of the 85th percentile,” the memo continued.
After Commissioner Jon Thaxton made the motion to lower the speed limit, and Commissioner Christine Robinson seconded it, Patterson said, “Folks, I’ve heard about this for a while. It’s been through the Siesta Key Association.”
She added, “All kinds of people have looked at it and said it would be a good thing.”