+ Commission approves new bus rapid-transit route
The SCAT bus system’s alternate route for its proposed bus rapid-transit line received praise from business owners and residents from Newtown to Laurel Park.
SCAT and Sarasota County officials presented the new route to the City Commission April 19.
The BRT would travel from the University area north of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport to Westfield Southgate Mall.
It promises a quicker trip on that route, because there will be fewer stops and because at least part of its route will be on a dedicated lane on the railroad corridor from University Parkway to 10th Street.
The original route took the BRT down Osprey Avenue, through the Laurel Park neighborhood. Community members opposed that route, because they feared an increase in noise, pollution and safety risks.
SCAT listened to the concerns and came up with an alternate route that traveled down Orange Avenue, instead. Laurel Park residents applauded the move.
“I think it’s fair to say the neighborhoods and businesses were pleased with the way they were engaged in this process,” said Mayor Kelly Kirschner.
Anthony Beckford, SCAT general manager, provided other updates about the project.
Although the preferred route includes the conversion of the railroad corridor, if the corridor cannot be purchased from the railroad, SCAT will consider taking the BRT down U.S. 301 between University Parkway and 10th Street.
South of Mound Street, SCAT is considering creating a dedicated BRT lane in the U.S. 41 median.
Public hearings are scheduled for February 2011. Construction and completion are planned for 2013 and 2014.
+ Brick pavers are ruled out for Main Street
When the 1300 block of Main Street reopens after a month-long construction project, it will not do so with a new brick-paver surface.
That portion of Main Street is scheduled to close during the month of June, while an underground waterline is replaced.
There had been some requests from the community and Downtown Improvement District members to resurface the road with pavers during that construction project.
The 1300 block of Main Street is in the Downtown Historic District, and advocates thought the brick pavers would better indicate that that part of town is historic.
City officials investigated the possibility, but announced this week that they’ve ruled out pavers, because they are too expensive.
The brickwork would have cost $170,000.
+ Parking garage holds groundbreaking
Although work had already been underway for about a month, the city held the official groundbreaking April 16 for the Palm Avenue parking garage.
More than 100 people attended the event, including all current city commissioners and five former commissioners who had been instrumental in the city’s acquisition and development of the property.
The garage will feature about 740 auto parking spaces and 70 bicycle spots, as well as a strip of retail stores on the first level.
The exterior will be a futuristic design that appears to be a series of large sails covering the building.
Construction is scheduled to be complete by December.