Construction on two Ringling Boulevard roundabouts will have to occur during tourist season if the city wants to avoid completely paying for them itself.
State funding is directly tied to the timeframe in which the roundabouts are constructed.
The city will be ready in two weeks to accept contractor bids for the roundabout at Palm Avenue.
To receive Florida Department of Transportation funding for that project, work needs to begin this summer.
It’s estimated it will cost $727,720 to build that roundabout.
The Pineapple Avenue roundabout will be ready to go to bid next month. Its estimated cost is $621,078.
City staff is now angling to do both projects simultaneously and is trying to get citizen support for that.
“Doing them together (could) minimize impact,” said Neil Gaines, the city’s manager of capital-improvement projects.
Although both projects will have separate bidders, Gaines hopes the same contractor will be the low bidder on both to simplify the construction process.
Because of the FDOT requirement that the Palm Avenue roundabout funds be spent immediately, the six-month construction process will bleed into tourist season.
However, Gaines believes the impact will not be as great as some residents fear, because one lane of traffic on Ringling Boulevard will remain open, except for an occasional transition day.
“The fire department requires one lane open for access to the high-rise condos with ladder trucks,” he said.
The projects will turn Ringling Boulevard into a two-lane road from Orange Avenue to Gulfstream Boulevard. It’s currently four lanes in that section.
The center of each roundabout will be landscaped with Florida-friendly plants and trees and so will the medians leading into the roundabouts.
The city presented the projects to the Downtown Sarasota Alliance last week to get its support for simultaneous construction.
“As long as residents have the opportunity to move up and down Main Street, we might as well bite the bullet,” said Mary Anne Servian, DSA vice chairwoman.
The DSA board gave its consent and had some high praise for the projects.
Said Forrest Shaw, DSA board member: “I think these are fantastic changes and are a welcome change to Ringling.”
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