Atkins North America will have until Oct. 15 to design a roundabout at the intersection of Beach Road and Midnight Pass Road.
Over the protests of many residents, construction on a single-lane roundabout at the intersection of Beach Road and Midnight Pass Road will progress after the county awarded a design contract.
The County Commission voted unanimously to award the Tampa-based company Atkins North America a design contract worth $269,643.
In 2015, Florida Department of Transportation officials polled residents about a preferred update to the intersection, with a majority voting against the roundabout. So, FDOT officials began designing an improved signalized intersection, which was about 60% complete.
However, after the county and FDOT swapped control of several Siesta Key roads in exchange for River Road, county staff found a roundabout at the intersection would be a better option.
“Overall, traffic studies have determined that the roundabout is a more efficient intersection as far as moving vehicles in and out of the intersection instead of stopping at a light,” Public Works Director Spencer Anderson said.
Additionally, the roundabout intersection would remove three vehicle conflict points and one pedestrian conflict point. A conflict point occurs when two movement paths cross over each other, such as a turn lane crossing a pedestrian crosswalk.
Still, when residents were surveyed by the county, about 67% of respondents remained opposed to the roundabout.
Margaret Jean Cannon, a board member of Siesta Key Association, said she lives near the main Siesta Key public beach access and finds it difficult to navigate Beach Road during season. She said a roundabout intersection would be unsafe.
“Going down this way, of people crossing the road, as well as cars exiting the beach, it’s going to push the traffic even further,” Cannon said. “It’s going to push the traffic all the way to Siesta Isles.”
Though FDOT will pay for the construction, the county had to fund the redesign, which was originally estimated at $360,000.
Funds for the design will be paid for out of gas tax revenue.
County documents note that Atkins North America staff will evaluate the need for exclusive right turn movements to avoid congestion in the roundabout. Additionally, staff will consider the need to add bicycle lanes.
All improvements will focus heavily on pedestrian and bicycle mobility, the documents note.
Construction of the roundabout is planned to coincide with a resurfacing project of Midnight Pass Road from Stickney Point Road to Shadow Lawn Way.
Both projects are planned for summer 2022 and temporary road closures and lane shifts may be necessary to accommodate construction.
Atkins North America will have until Oct. 15 to submit its designs to FDOT.