The County Commission approved a budget amendment of $610,000 to fund both projects.
It took just more than a minute for commissioners to approve the next steps to two Siesta Key road projects that have caused controversy on the island.
On Jan. 26, commissioners approved a formal $610,000 budget amendment to allow the construction of 22 parking spaces on the northern end of the Siesta Village and design of a roundabout at the intersection of Midnight Pass and Beach roads.
Although board members could have requested a presentation on the measures, they did not. They opened and closed the issue with an unanimous vote in one minute and 12 seconds.
The parking project, which will add 22 public spaces along Ocean Boulevard in front of The Old Salty Dog, has been in the works for about five years.
In November 2020, commissioners requested an amendment to the 2021 budget to accommodate the project at an estimated expense of $250,000.
Director of Public Works Spencer Anderson estimated construction on the project could begin in the fall or winter.
A staff memo states the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce provided project information to surrounding community groups about the parking plan and several provided feedback against the project, citing safety concerns.
The parking spaces will be angled, with vehicles backing up into Ocean Boulevard. In a letter to its members, Siesta Key Condominium Council leaders stated concerns that the spots would create a bottleneck.
County staff will use the remaining $360,000 to fund the design of a roundabout at the intersection of Midnight Pass Road and Beach Road.
Improvements to the intersection have been in the works since 2015, and the project will be funded by the Florida Department of Transportation as part of the county’s road swap in which it gave FDOT control of River Road in exchange for several Siesta Key roads.
In 2015, residents through a survey told FDOT officials they were not in favor of a roundabout, so FDOT began designing improvements to the signalized intersection.
Despite a 2020 county survey that found out of 552 respondents, 33% favored a roundabout, commissioners moved ahead. Although FDOT will cover the cost of construction, the county is responsible for the design.
Anderson said the roundabout, just south of the main public Siesta Key Beach access, would be more efficient at continuing a flow of traffic. Additionally, he said more signalized pedestrian intersections will be added.
When design work is complete toward the end of October, it will be given to FDOT to incorporate into its resurfacing project on Midnight Pass Road from Stickney Point Road to Shadow Lawn Way.
Construction is expected to begin as early as summer 2022.
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