The Metropolitan Planning Organization is preparing its long-range transportation plan for U.S. 41 from Palmetto to the south Sarasota County border and recently sought input from the city on what it considered its top priorities.
Commissioners unanimously voted to make transportation improvements in north Sarasota their No. 1 objective.
“We have a chance of integrating all those institutions up there,” said Commissioner Terry Turner. “It can be the next big part of our economic plan.”
The board made the section of U.S. 41 from University of South Florida to Orange Avenue its top priority and from Orange Avenue to Bee Ridge Road its second priority.
The city is already planning six roundabouts along the bayfront (see box page 1) as part of its connectivity plan. The MPO plan could call for four more, at the U.S. 41 intersections with the entrance to to USF, University Parkway, Myrtle Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
However, most of the proposed improvements in the transportation plan are new or expanded sidewalks for pedestrians and bicycle lanes.
The goal of the bayfront-connectivity plan is to slow traffic by reducing lane width and widening and landscaping the medians, as well as posting slower speed-limit signs.
Vice Mayor Fredd Atkins feared that would shift a lot of traffic to U.S. 301.
“If we’re going to do all these things to 41, we’re going to turn that six-lane 301 into a high-speed track,” he said. “We need to make sure we have a plan for safety for 301.”
But City Engineer Alex DavisShaw said the roundabouts on U.S. 41 may actually invite more drivers.
“Without (stoplights) on 41, it should allow the same amount of volume and maybe even more,” she said. “If we’re thoughtful as to how we make these modifications, we can make it function better and not funnel off traffic.”
The roundabouts at 14th Street and 10th Street are already fully funded at a total of about $5 million, and FDOT will choose a contractor in the next few weeks.
Funding for the rest of the bayfront connectivity plan will come in stages that are yet to be determined.
The rest of the MPO’s long-range transportation plan will take decades to fund and build.
ROUNDABOUT SIX PACK
The city-approved bayfront connectivity plan calls for six roundabouts on U.S. 41 at the following intersections:
• 14th Street
• 10th Street
• Fruitvillle Road
• Main Street
• Orange Avenue
Currently 4 Responses
- This is going too fast. Already some of the completed projects of this nature are under pressure to be removed. Let's give it a lot more time before going forward.
- Being a person with a disability it makes it hard to decide when to go into the traffic circle. I find it much easier to have a light tell me when its safe to go. I will be avoiding these circles as much as possible.
Not every town has circles. I think you are not only putting me at a disadvantage, but visitors to our town as well.
- The Vice Mayor is right. US 301 and Fruitville Road carry much more traffic than US 41 and they enter the heart of Sarasota. The remarks by the City Engineer are disingenuous,"if we're thoughtful as to how we make these modifications,we can make it function better and not funnel off traffic". US 41 from Myrtle St. to its connction at Mound St. with US 301 conforms to its adopted level of service. Between Myrtle St. and University Parkway US 41 does not meet it adopted level of service but that seems to be of no consequence.
Fruitville Road from Tuttle to US 301 does not meet the adopted level of service. US 41 from US 301 to the south city limits does not meet its adopted level of service. Why is the City concentrating on fixing a highway that meets its operating criteria and ignoring those that do not. As a passing note, the City Comprehansive plan is firm in its commitment to another bridge from Longboat Key to the mainland. The $100,000,000 quoted as the price for US 41 roundabouts could certainly help that cause and at the same time ameliorate the problem at Ringling Cswy and US 41.
- These planned roundabouts are an insane waste of money. The idea of slowing traffic is equally insane. The idea should be to move as fast and as safely as possible. More accidents will occur with roundabouts and certainly more frustration. Agitated drivers become more hostile and that raises the possibility of more accidents both vehicular and pedestrian. While they're at it, why don't they add back-in parking along US 41? Oh, and let's reduce the road to one lane in each direction!
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