Although the exact timetable is uncertain, Siesta Key should be getting radar signs by the end of the year.
Siesta Key Association board member Joe Volpe made the announcement during the organization’s Nov. 3 regular meeting. Although the SKA had hosted a presentation on the signs almost a year ago, he said, it had taken time for the county to pursue the necessary steps to purchase them.
“Hopefully, it’s going to help the speeding problem and safety on the island,” Volpe said of the installation of six signs.
After the County Commission Oct. 25 approved the recommendation of its Traffic Advisory Council for the speed limit to be lowered from 35 mph to 30 mph on Beach Road between the Village and the Midnight Pass Road intersection, Efrain Duque, manager of the county’s Mobility/Traffic Engineering Office, said the new speed limit signs would not be erected until the radar signs could be installed on the Key.
Chris Hauber, technical specialist in the Mobility/Traffic Engineering Office, said he was optimistic the signs would be in place around the Key by Dec. 31. Given that both the Veterans Day and Thanksgiving holidays fall in November, he said it was doubtful the work could be done before December.
The signs had been shipped to the county, he said. However, concrete foundations have to be poured for them.
“The important thing is that we actually were finally able to get them ordered,” he said.
The first email he could find regarding county discussion about purchasing the signs was in March, he said. However, the first exchange about the signs between Public Works and Procurement department personnel was in mid-April.
“We’ve been at this for a while,” Hauber said.
During the SKA meeting, Volpe said County Commission Chairwoman Nora Patterson liked the idea of the signs so much she had suggested the county pay for them, instead of the SKA and other groups trying to pool funding for them.
The total cost of the 12 signs is just under $50,000, about $4,158 per sign. Signs will be placed in other areas around the county in addition to the Key, Hauber said.
The purchasing was delayed because not all of the companies bidding on the project complied fully with the county’s request for proposals. To prevent having to re-bid the project, he added, the county had asked for clarifications of the deficient bids.
The signs will flash a vehicle’s speed as it approaches. If a vehicle is speeding, the sign will display the words, “Slow down.”
The signs will be able to store information about the vehicles’ speeds, which will be accessible by the Mobility/Traffic Engineering Office staff if the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office wants to study traffic trends, Hauber said. The data should make it clear how fast vehicles are moving at certain times of day, for example, he said.
New radar signs purchased by Sarasota County are expected in several Key locations before the end of the year:
• Midnight Pass Road in the vicinity of the Commonwealth Drive intersection, near the “hump bridge” over the Grand Canal
• Ocean Boulevard by the Pass Key Road intersection, facing northbound traffic
• Midnight Pass Road just south of the Stickney Point Road intersection
• The exit from Siesta Public Beach near the tennis courts
• The westernmost Siesta Public Beach exit
• One that may “float,” if county staff is able to figure out how best to install concrete foundations in other areas, so it can be moved.
One factor in the signs’ locations will be lack of shade. “We do need as much sun exposure (for them) as possible,” said Chris Hauber, a technical specialist II in the Sarasota County Mobility/Traffic Engineering Office. “These are solar-powered.”