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Sarasota Thursday, May 14, 2020 3 weeks ago

Trails still top city transportation priorities

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After gathering public input, staff is going to the commission for guidance on the Sarasota in Motion master plan.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

At first glance, not much has changed about city staff’s list of transportation project priorities since a series of workshops in March.

The top 10 projects, identified in a presentation scheduled to be given at Monday’s City Commission meeting, are the same now as they were two months ago. They include expanding the city’s trail network; improving streetscapes for east-west arterial roads, such as 10th Street; emphasizing multimodal transportation on certain streets; and strengthening core public transit routes.

As staff works to finalize the proposed Sarasota in Motion transportation master plan, officials say they’re continuing to refine details of the initiative based on public input — even if the broader strokes remain consistent. Colleen McGue, the city’s chief transportation planner, said online and in-person feedback from residents helps staff shape specifics about projects it believes the community already supports conceptually.

To date, the city said it has reached more than 1,200 people at in-person events and more than 1,000 online. With that information in hand, staff is now going to the City Commission for guidance before submitting a final proposal.

McGue noted one significant change since the last public discussion of Sarasota in Motion: the presence of COVID-19. City transportation staff is working with the finance department to determine what financial effects the pandemic might have on the plan. Although the plan is intended to be implemented over 25 years, McGue was optimistic the city could still find some short-term funding options.

“A lot of these projects are bicycle- or sidewalk-oriented, which is much more affordable than, like, building a new bridge,” McGue said.

Pending the outcome of Monday’s commission meeting, McGue said staff hoped to have a draft of the master plan ready in the next few weeks. In addition to the list of top 10 projects, the full master plan will include analysis of dozens of projects staff has analyzed as part of the Sarasota in Motion process.

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