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Longboat Key Monday, Mar. 15, 2021 10 months ago

Longboat street improvement planned to mitigate flooding

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Lyons Lane is one of the lowest in Longboat Key.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Rain and stormwater have caused flooding for years on Longboat Key's north end.

It has prompted the town to begin plans of raising the elevation of Lyons Lane to mitigate some of the flooding the neighborhood has experienced.

Longboat Key Public Works Director Isaac Brownman said the town decided to take action given the frequency and significance of flooding along Lyons Lane, along with the concerns residents have expressed.

“The neighborhood essentially came together and said, ‘We really have an issue with access to our properties,’” Brownman said. “‘It’s affecting property values. It may even impact emergency access.’”

Brownman described why the town decided to propose improvements for Lyons Lane specifically.

“It’s directly adjacent to the bay with an extraordinarily low road,” Brownman said. “In fact, one of the lowest if not the lowest…it’s a very low road in Longboat Key, so those factors combined, it has worse events than other areas.”

Brownman said the elevation of Lyons Lane is about 2.8 inches when first turning onto the road from Gulf of Mexico Drive, falling to 1.6 inches toward the northeast end near Sarasota Bay.

Lyons Lane is an area of Longboat Key that is prone to flooding whenever there is rain, a tropical storm or hurricane. This photo provided by the town of Longboat Key was taken in September 2019.

“The road itself is actually dropping down as you travel east,” Brownman said. “The lower the road gets, especially in the 1.6- to 1.7[-inch] range, it gets heavily impacted by our higher tide waters.”

The town plans to raise Lyons Lane only an inch or two near Gulf of Mexico Drive, whereas closer to the bayfront, the town plans to raise the road about 6-7 inches in some locations.

“That will require a number of driveway tie-ins into the roadway so that folks can have adequate access in and out of properties, and some level of earthwork to do some regrading in those areas,” Brownman said.

The project includes the reworking of nearly every driveway in the neighborhood to meet the necessary elevation.

The town is working with Palmetto-based Gator Grading & Paving on the Lyons Lane improvements. The Lyons Lane roadwork will have an approximate cost of a little bit more than $300,000, Brownman said.

“We’re still refining that,” Brownman said. “That could come down. That could stay the same. We’re not sure yet.”

According to an email Brownman wrote to Town Manager Tom Harmer on March 5, cost savings on other drainage projects and the town’s resurfacing program will fund the Lyons Lane project.

The town is still finalizing its design and working to gain a permit exemption from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Lyons Lane is an area of Longboat Key that is prone to flooding whenever there is rain, a tropical storm or hurricane. This photo provided by the town of Longboat Key was taken in September 2019.

Brownman said the town hopes to have the Lyons Lane improvements done by July ahead of the bulk of the rainy season. The Atlantic hurricane season goes from June 1 through Nov. 30.

“The challenge there is we really want to have the underground project built ahead of this project, so we’re not having the underground project working on our brand new road, quarrying and doing utility locates on the brand new road,” Brownman said.

Depending on the timing of the project, Brownman said the town will work with Gator Grading & Paving to determine if it’s best to work through the rainy season. At the latest, Brownman said the Lyons Lane project would be done by fall.

Lyons Lane residents met via Zoom twice with Longboat Key town projects manager Charlie Mopps to discuss the flooding issues and proposed improvements.

“It became clear that this road was pretty well one of the lowest roads in the area, and it’s a very low road in the town,” Brownman said. “And, as they continue to have the high water issues, it was actually deteriorating the roadway as well.” 

Saltwater can also cause corrosion underneath cars.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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