A Florida Department of Transportation official told the Sarasota City Commission Monday the department still supports U.S. 41 roundabouts at 10th and 14th streets.
FDOT District 1 Secretary Billy Hattaway, confirmed for the commission that FDOT is planning to present its recommendations and roundabout renderings during a public forum in May.
“We hope to receive feedback and suggestions for the project at that time,” Hattaway said.
FDOT held a U.S. 41 public workshop in September, to review potential plans for the roundabouts and receive the public’s input.
No presentation was made last year, however, and the public was able only to review diagrams and provide feedback.
The roundabouts are the first phase of the bayfront-connectivity concept that FDOT has endorsed. An FDOT team still is evaluating and exploring various alternatives for upgrades to U.S. 41 in the downtown corridor, including roundabouts with raised islands for pedestrians at 10th Street and 14th Street.
The Tamiami Trail project is designed to slow traffic speed, create wider avenues and medians and provide more space for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Commissioner Shannon Snyder, who has been trying to find a way to lower the speed limit on U.S. 41 prior to the installation of the roundabouts and to make the thoroughfare safer, asked Hattaway what could be done in the interim.
Not much can be done until the roundabouts are installed, Hattaway said.
“Unless there are physical changes to the roadway, to reduce speed, we can’t just go out and change the speed limit,” Hattaway said. “People will not slow down — even if you lower the speed limit — and will drive as fast as they feel comfortable on a four-lane roadway.”
Hattaway, however, noted that once the roundabouts are installed between 10th and 14th streets, motorists will be able to go only 35 mph, by law, as they approach the roundabouts.
They will be able to travel 20 mph to 25 mph when they are in the roundabouts.
Other long-term roundabouts planned through the city’s connectivity plan call for future roundabouts at the U.S. 41 intersections of Fruitville Road, Main Street, Orange Avenue and Gulfstream. Funding for those is expected to be available in the future, because FDOT plans to allocate more money to U.S. 41 projects.