At the direction of two city commissioners, city engineers and transportation staff will begin looking at redirecting funding from two Ringling Boulevard roundabouts to a roundabout at U.S. 41 and 10th Street.
Vice Mayor Kelly Kirschner and Commissioner Terry Turner introduced the possibility of a “test” roundabout at U.S. 41 and 10th Street during a June 16 meeting on the bayfront connectivity plan. They called it a “test” roundabout, because the intent would be to see how drivers react to bayfront roundabouts.
The plan currently calls for the designing of several roundabouts during Phase A, which would last three years.
“Instead of designing several things for three years, how about designing and building one at 10th Street,” Kirschner said. “Tenth Street is an important gateway, and it could get traffic off U.S. 41.”
But Susan Montgomery, city transportation planner, said moving the $1.5 million in funding assigned to roundabouts at Ringling Boulevard intersections at Palm and Pineapple avenues would mean that the city could be throwing away $125,000 in design work already completed on the Palm Avenue roundabout.
Montgomery also said there is another potential hurdle. Because FDOT already has the Palm Avenue roundabout on its work schedule, the city will have to get permission from FDOT to move the funds to the 10th Street roundabout.
Montgomery said receiving that approval is not a sure thing.
“Staff’s point of view is (the Ringling roundabouts) are part of the master plan,” Montgomery said. “But the commission may be changing its priorities and saying that connectivity is more important now.”
Kirschner implied that could be the case. He said in his time on the commission, he has never heard a complaint that the Ringling and Palm intersection is dangerous or a traffic problem.
“With all the fiscal challenges we have, Ringling and Palm may not be our top priority,” he said.
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