+ Roundabout at Palm Avenue a good thing
As chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), I offer some outside-the-city perspective on the Palm Avenue roundabout:
• That roundabout is on the MPO work list to use state and federal funds, not city money.
• The elected officials who make up the MPO board decide which roadway improvements use federal and state money in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
• The MPO and Florida Department of Transportation funding process sets funding five years out. The MPO (www.mympo.org) put the Palm Avenue roundabout into the pipeline for construction five years ago to be funded in 2009.
A previous Sarasota City Commission submitted the request for the roundabout in 2003 — after that Palm Avenue intersection had just experienced a series of accidents.
The $800,000 earmarked for the roundabout is an “up-to” amount. Now designed, the estimated cost is $669,808.50, and it may come in lower when it is put out for bid soon. Construction is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving.
That roundabout’s purpose, as they are supposed to, is to assure all users, including walkers and bikers, can safely move through and across the roadway without reducing its prior level of service.
The features of this roundabout will observe the city’s 2020 master plan, smooth traffic flow and safety for all users, include landscaped aesthetics, add parking where possible and make it so residents are able to walk to and from downtown safely.
+ Tourists get confused when in roundabouts
Although your article “Roundabout Central” was well written, it missed an important difference between Carmel, Ind., and Sarasota. I doubt if Carmel has many tourists. I just returned from vacation in Sedona, Ariz., where there are 11 newly installed roundabouts. Sedona’s population distribution more closely resembles Sarasota’s influx of older people and tourists.
The problem with the roundabouts in Sedona, according to the Sedona Red Rock News, is not the locals, it’s the tourists who are not familiar with roundabouts.
Here are comments from the Sedona Red Rock News:
• “The roundabouts are dangerous because many tourists don’t know how to drive in them. People need to realize that it’s a yield sign, not a stop sign.”
• “There is a learning curve with roundabouts,” said Kristin Darr-Bornstein, but that’s why she’s worked to provide regular updates, printed materials and information on the radio.
• As for informing tourists who may not be in the know, Darr-Bornstein said she’s working closely with the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Department of Tourism and AAA to get the word out.
All the roundabouts had the same problem: tire tracks where there shouldn’t have been any. It looks like Sedona has a problem with tourists.
Is Sarasota ready for this?
+ You can get used to the roundabout routine
I enjoyed your article about all the roundabouts in Carmel, Ind. I am originally from Indianapolis, just south of Carmel. I really like the roundabouts now that I’ve gotten used to them. But they do take getting used to.
+ Out with the red and in with the round
Sick of sitting at the red? Then come ’round … and listen to my ditty.
Oh, traffic-light crossings, how we love thee — not! Let us count the ways: You truly try our patience. You get to us, ’cause when we get to you, you’re bloody red. Sitting at the red light eternal, with nary a car in the cross road, that’s the height of inefficiency. Rigidly, you make us wait, fowling the air, wasting our time and gas. That’s traffic-light tyranny.
Driving smoothly? Just forget it, as we hop from red to red. Incessant stops and slow acceleration to boot.
But wait, there’s so much more. You traffic-light crossings pose hazards and perils galore: deadly left-turn crashes, rampant red-light-running disasters and — lately — brazen red-light robberies. You’re the cause of most everything bad in our traffic flow ... we think it’s time for you to go.
Yes, you’re well established far and wide in city and boondocks since the days of yore — but now we can’t stand you anymore.
Oh, and we must not forget to mention ... you cost lots of money, maintenance and electricity — ’zillions every year. Yes, and when the mighty breezes blow ... and ’lectric power is no more, you cause traffic woes galore.
Oh, traffic-light crossings, want a second opinion? OK, you’re ugly, too — with poles and wires up to gazoo.
So, pray tell, what to do? Throw each of you out, in favor of a roundabout.
“Too expensive!” you shout? But the annual savings will quickly cancel the building cost out. No more needless waste of precious time, no more red-light running. Traffic flowing smoothly, ugliness replaced by beauty.
Happily, at last, Sarasota may be beginning to join the roundabout revolution.
Long may it live!
+ Pedestrian issues need to be discussed
I am often distressed by the decisions made by national, state and local governmental bodies. Few ever directly affect my daily life as much as roundabouts and parking meters, ergo my comments.
I don’t recall ever seeing a picture with more than two or three cars in an article promoting roundabouts. The one planned for Ringling and Pineapple Avenue will be photographed and touted as a great success because I have never had more than two cars in front of me at the Ringling stop signs and one at either side of Pineapple. Fruitville and U.S. 41 will be a circus, as will U.S. 41 and Main Street. Main Street at Five Points and at Orange Avenue will be pedestrian traffic nightmares. Nowhere do I see any discussion of pedestrian concerns. The outcome will be a sudden realization that there is considerable danger for people of all ages trying to cross these streets. We’ll be back to promoting pedestrian overpasses — an ugly alternative.
The parking meters on Main Street will eventually result in business decreases for the merchants there.
People in restaurants and bars will have to interrupt their meals to go feed the meter or suffer a ticket. A few of those instances will deter further patronage and result in revenue losses for the merchants and the city.
There will be even more vacancies on Main Street.
Sadly, the people making these stupid decisions keep getting re-elected. Whose fault is that?
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Trevor Kunk is the chef de cuisine at Blue Hill in New York City’s Greenwich Village, which the James Beard Foundation just named "most outstanding restaurant."
Sarasota native and resident Bri Oliva made her TV debut May 7, on the "Rachael Ray Show." Oliva was selected to participate in a segment called "Hidden Dangers on the Playground."
Key to the city
More than 100 community members and leaders, friends and family surprised Paul Thorpe, one of the founding members of the Downtown Association of Sarasota, April 25, at The Gator Club, to show their appreciation and celebrate the strides he’s made for Sarasota over the past four decades.