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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 25, 2010 5 years ago

Osprey road expansion questioned

by: Robin Roy City Editor

An effort to keep U.S. 41 as a four-lane road through Osprey has received a boost.

The Florida Department of Transportation is planning to turn Tamiami Trail into a six-lane highway, but upon Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton’s request, the entire commission decided to ask FDOT to consider alternatives.

Thaxton said a light went off in his head after he saw the redevelopment plans for Anil Patel’s waterfront property south of Bay Street, which included wider landscaped medians and multi-use trails.

“It caused people to look at 41 and say, ‘Doesn’t that look better than a six-lane highway?’” he said.

Thaxton met with the FDOT secretary for the Sarasota region and presented the four-lane idea. He said he was surprised at the reaction.

“I didn’t get push back,” he said. “Only concerns about capacity and safety.”

David Merrill, head of the Osprey Civic League, said the group has plans for U.S. 41.

“Our group wants to take the space for the two extra lanes and use it for a 10-foot multi-use trail and landscaping,” he said.

The Osprey Civic League wants trees planted between the roadway and the trail, so it creates the appearance of a linear park. The group wants the trail to link with The Legacy Trail, in Oscar Scherer State Park, and with the coming East Bay Street trailhead and to the trail that will lead to the expanded Blackburn Point Park.

Merrill said because U.S. 41 through Osprey is a commercial corridor, he foresees people walking, riding bikes and maybe using golf carts to patronize those businesses.

“We still look at it as a six-lane transportation corridor,” said Merrill. “Just not all six lanes are for cars.”
Thaxton said any possible work on U.S. 41 through Osprey could be decades away, but when the time comes, an alternative plan could win out.

“Everyone agrees that it’s worth the (time) investment to see if there’s a better way,” said Thaxton.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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