Longboat Key Mayor Lee Rothenberg distributed an e-mail from the Florida Department of Transportation last month that’s caused a stir among area roundabout advocates and opponents.
Rothenberg, a board member of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, forwarded an e-mail he received to his fellow commissioners, in which the state rejects a proposed roundabout for U.S. 41 at the Venice Avenue intersection.
The e-mail states “a traditional intersection with traffic signal control will outperform a roundabout at the project intersection. During peak periods of traffic flow, the operation of a roundabout has a much higher chance of causing congestion than the traditional intersection.”
Rothenberg, a strong opponent of the city of Sarasota’s bayfront connectivity proposal, which recommends five roundabouts on U.S. 41 near the bayfront, thinks the e-mail should be a wake-up call.
“This e-mail ties in with my personal view that roundabouts will not work on U.S. 41 near the bayfront,” Rothenberg said. “I am not against roundabouts, but they are extremely site specific and will not work in this area.”
Vice Mayor Robert Siekmann agrees.
“The problem, in part, is that Sarasota’s plan and argument for roundabouts continue to be about providing access to the water for pedestrians,” Siekmann said. “It’s well established that roundabouts improve the flow of traffic, though, which is counterproductive to giving pedestrians access to the water.”
But Rod Warner, chairman of The City Alliance — a coalition of Sarasota residents, business owners and city groups that supports the city’s bayfront connectivity proposal — said the e-mail should not be used as a basis for the city’s proposed roundabouts.
Warner points to other reasons in the e-mail for why a roundabout at the Venice Avenue intersection was not recommended, including the fact that a roundabout there “would require right-of-way requirements that would involve purchasing the entire CVS and Shell service station properties in that area.”
The Sarasota City Commission will hold a workshop at 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 16, at City Hall, 1565 First St., Sarasota. The commission will continue to discuss plans for its bayfront connectivity proposal. A simulated roundabout traffic study presentation, which is expected to show how cars will travel from the barrier islands to Sarasota, will be presented at the meeting.
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