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St. Armands Circle crosswalks
Sarasota Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018 3 years ago

FDOT considers St. Armands speed tables

The Florida Department of Transportation could install temporary speed tables around St. Armands Circle to test the efficacy of the traffic calming measure.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

As the city and state discuss the possibility of adding temporary speed tables near St. Armands Circle crosswalks, the St. Armands Business Improvement District is conflicted about the idea.

On Tuesday, the BID agreed to discuss the concept of installing the traffic-calming devices with City Engineer Alex DavisShaw at a meeting next month. But the two board members present expressed skepticism the proposal would address the most pressing traffic-related concerns in the commercial district.

“I don’t think speed tables are the solution,” BID board member Geoffrey Michel said.

Diana Corrigan, executive director of the St. Armands Circle Association, said the removable speed tables would be installed as a test to see if they would mitigate one specific problem in the area. She said Circle stakeholders met with the Florida Department of Transportation in late 2016 after a driver struck a pedestrian on North Boulevard of the Presidents near Madison Drive.

The goal, she said, was to get drivers to slow down as they exited St. Armands Circle.

“Once people get to that point, once they come around Columbia (Restaurant), that becomes the Longboat speedway,” Corrigan said.

BID Chairman Gavin Meshad had some misgivings about whether speed tables are the most effective solution, but he expressed a desire to explore whatever options the state is willing to consider. Other than a 2016 trial period during which crossing guards were stationed at Circle intersections, Meshad said it’s been difficult to move forward on any traffic improvements.

St. Armands Circle crosswalks
Other than a trial period of stationing crossing guards at Circle crosswalks, St. Armands stakeholders said it has been difficult getting the state to undertake traffic improvements in the area.

“I hate to say it this way: I’ve been on this board so long, I’d take anything I can get,” Meshad said. “If they’re gonna throw me a crumb and try speed tables — I hate the looks of them, but if they’re going to put them in to test it, and it can slow traffic down and help safety a little bit, then maybe it would be a precursor to something more substantive.”

Michel said he hoped the state would be willing to consider a different addition to St. Armands: signalized crosswalks. He thought pedestrian signals would reduce traffic delays associated with people walking across the street.

Corrigan said FDOT has previously indicated it does not have the funding for signalized crosswalks in the area. If the BID ultimately approves the temporary speed tables, FDOT would fund the trial installation. The board was unclear where funding would come from if the city wanted to add permanent speed tables.

The board is scheduled to discuss possible speed table locations and project timing with DavisShaw in September. Based on the conversation at Tuesday’s meeting, the BID is interested in at least evaluating the idea.

“I would support it, just because something’s more than nothing,” Meshad said.

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