The first day it appeared last month, the flashing speed limit sign on Midnight Pass Road was on the fritz.
The orange numbers flashed against its black background with the message “slow down” when vehicles coasted by as slow as 30 mph, despite the 40 mph speed limit on the state road.
The sign is now fixed and functional and is the result of coordination between the Florida Department of Transportation and Sarasota County. The county used the brief period of inactivity in the first week to collect traffic data from the sign, according to Siesta Key Association President Catherine Luckner.
“We’re so happy to see the end of that whole effort,” Luckner said.
The organization pushed for the sign, along with other signs further down the state road and near the main entrance to Siesta Key public beach, as part of its pedestrian-safety platform. The county approved six traffic devices for the island earlier this year.
But, the base of the sixth sign, the one recently installed on Midnight Pass, was not approved with crash tests required by the state, and the county put installation on hold. The other three signs were installed earlier this year.
“It was a big puzzle,” Luckner said.
SKA will continue to push FDOT to lower the 40 mph speed limit on Midnight Pass and mull ways to reduce confusion regarding signage displaying three different speed limits, or suggestions, on the road, Luckner said. One of the speed-limit signs has a stop sign on it, which has at times caused vehicles to stop when pedestrians aren’t present.
FDOT installed flashing pedestrian signs next to the crosswalks, and another large white sign warning cars to stop when they are activated. That sign has an arrow pointing to an image of a stop sign.
“There’s always room for improvement, but this needed to happen,” said Cheryl Gaddie, a member of the boards of the Siesta Key Village Association and the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and an avid cyclist.
Speeders on the stretch of Midnight Pass before its intersection with Beach Road were a prominent complaint residents had for FDOT representatives during a town hall meeting Sept. 17, for another SKA-backed project further south.
The state department continues to work on six crosswalks, which will eventually be slightly elevated, along Midnight Pass Road south of the intersection with Beach Road, including the installation of signage alerting drivers to stop and flashing lights that are activated by pedestrians.
“I think at this point were going to observe and see how people react to the crosswalks,” Luckner said. “In particular, we want the resident feedback.”
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