During a public workshop Tuesday, Feb. 12, state and local planners presented the most recent version of plans for a pair of roundabouts on U.S. 41.
The $7.9 million project to construct roundabouts at U.S. 41 and 10th Street and U.S. 41 and 14th Street would be the first of a $100 million network that calls for eight additional circular intersections to replace traffic lights along the bayfront.
Before the meeting started, residents viewed a video simulation that showed how the 10th and 14th street roundabouts would function. The simulation also addressed a neighborhood concern by showing how large trucks and vehicles towing boats would navigate the circles. Another simulation illustrated a stream of 700 cars leaving the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on 10th Street.
“Generally, I think they are an improvement,” Al Kersten, who owns a condo at Broadway Promenade at U.S. 41 and 11th Street.
Kersten’s only concern is how traffic will flow after a show at the Van Wezel. He worries traffic will not flow as smoothly as the video simulation portrayed.
“Traffic volume is usually heavier on 41,” Kersten said.
Kersten, however, thinks the roundabouts and wider sidewalks, new landscaping, bike lanes and pedestrian crossings will be an improvement upon what the bayfront highway looks like now.
“Aesthetically, it’s going to be neat,” Kersten said.
Andrew Axline, who lives in the Broadway Promenade and will be able to see the 10th Street roundabout from his condo unit, was more enthusiastic about the project.
“I think they are fantastic,” Axline said. “In the U.K. and England, they are really important. They are just catching on here (in the United States).”
Axline said he was recently in Clearwater, and he thought the roundabouts there worked “pretty well.”
Residents also offered suggestions for improvements to the project. Bicycle advocate Mike Lasche asked planning officials to consider adding a one-block stretch of bike lanes to 10th Street. Bicycle lanes were not included in the project’s presented plans.
Lasche said he thinks the new bike lanes and multi-use sidewalks on U.S. 41 will be a great asset to the city.
“This will lead to a livable and walkable North Trail,” Lasche said.
Frederick Williams, a resident at the Jefferson Center, asked planners to add an additional crosswalk so that residents at the senior community could safely cross 10th Street to get to Publix.
“These are ladies with walkers and canes,” Williams said. “I am asking you to save these wonderful people’s lives.”