With five construction projects scheduled to begin soon within the same two blocks on Main Street, the city is trying to minimize the impact on residents, tourists and business owners.
Those projects are the Palm Avenue parking garage, Five Points roundabout, intersection improvements at Palm Avenue and Main Street, waterline replacement in the 1300 block of Main Street and the Downtown Improvement District’s landscaping improvements.
Although the start times are different for each project, there will be times during the summer and fall when up to three of them will be under construction simultaneously.
To deal with potential problems, the city developed a complex staging plan that received the city manager’s approval this week.
“We want to make sure customers are getting in and out of businesses, assure that businesses can get their deliveries and minimize contractors’ use of public-parking spots,” said Glenn Marzluf, general manager of the city’s engineering department.
Marzluf began this week a series of meetings with neighborhood and business groups to explain the work schedule.
With its April 1 start date, the parking garage will be the first project to get under way, but contractor Suffolk Construction is confining all of its operations to its site, which eliminates the need for road closures.
The waterline replacement will require the 1300 block of Main Street to close from June 1 to June 30. But the city is promising to have the road open for all Independence Day activities and parades.
Work on the Five Points roundabout will begin July 5. The city had been considering closing the entire 1400 block, but has instead decided just to close a small portion of the road on all five roads leading to Five Points. Drivers will be able to turn around on Main Street and Pineapple Avenue just before the construction area begins.
The closures on Main Street and Pineapple Avenue will both begin in front of Patrick’s restaurant and First Watch.
All major work that requires road closures is expected to be complete by Sept. 3. But the city will give the contractor, which will be chosen within the next month, $5,000 for each day it completes the work before that date.
“If they can throw more resources at it, it will be worth a lot of money to the city,” said Marzluf.
Sidewalk construction, landscaping and other incidental work will take until Nov. 23 to complete.
The Palm and Main intersection improvements will begin Sept. 7. They include new landscaping and the creation of bulb-outs on each corner to reduce the distance pedestrians have to walk to cross the street. Completion is expected by Nov. 23.
The Downtown Improvement District landscaping, which calls for new trees, plants and planters throughout downtown, will also take place between Sept. 7 and Nov. 23.
“We think this plan has the smallest impact and limits the closures to smaller areas,” said Marzluf. “The greatest impact will be at the end in how we change downtown.”
To help keep everything on schedule, the city has hired consultant Mary Ellen Maurer to manage all five projects. She managed the construction of the Ringling Bridge and The Legacy Trail.
Wendy Getchell, president of the Downtown Sarasota Association, also owns the clothing store Lotus in the 1400 block of Main Street. She said she was pleased with the city’s plan, but fears that some businesses may struggle.
“I think (the city) is doing a good job coordinating everything,” she said. “But it’s going to be rough.”
Project Start End
Palm Avenue parking garage April 1 Dec. 17
Waterline replacement June 1 June 30
Five Points roundabout July 5 Nov. 23
Palm and Main intersection Sept. 7 Nov. 23
Landscaping improvements November Nov. 23