Some part-time Siesta Key residents returning for Thanksgiving and the season will find the drive to their homes smoother than when they left.
Superior Asphalt Inc., the contractor Sarasota County picked earlier this year to resurface roads within the Gulf Gate Area 12B, which includes roads within Gulf Gate and on Siesta, is racing to finish paving eight Siesta roads before Turkey Day, said county project manager Art Powell. The project is taking place during a year with the lowest planned funding for resurfacing since 2009.
Sarasota County picked Superior Asphalt, which bid $2.9 million for the contract originally estimated to cost $3.3 million. The project covers 84 county-maintained roads, two miles of which are on Siesta.
“We anticipate, without any unforeseen weather conditions, being competed before Thanksgiving,” said Powell.
County engineers use a system called the Overall Condition Index, which grades roads on a range from zero to 100, to prioritize resurfacing projects. Streets that have an OCI of less than 60 are considered undesirable. Eighty-five percent of the miles being resurfaced on the island fit the bill.
The work comes seven months after county engineer Jim Harriott gave the County Commission a gloomy infrastructure update that concluded resurfacing is getting more expensive. County General Manager of Business Operations Tom Maroney told commissioners that $1 million could pay for about 15 miles of resurfacing, which is about half the amount it could buy 10 years ago.
The Siesta roads won’t face micro-resurfacing — a technique that cuts the cost by two-thirds, but leaves a rough finish that makes it louder than typically resurfaced streets — according to bid documents.
During a budget workshop in May, Harriott told county commissioners about the need to consider maintaining a $7 million-per-year resurfacing budget to keep a majority of county roads above 60 on the OCI index. If the county budgeted
$15 million annually for resurfacing through 2024, less than 20% of county roads would have OCIs of less than 60, and if there were no funding, 80% would fall below the threshold by 2024, according to staff estimates from the budget workshop.
Forty percent of Sarasota County roads, the value of which the Florida Department of Transportation data estimates at
$2.3 billion, are currently at an OCI below 60.