Residents hope that stopping a light installation at Stickney Point Road and Avenue B and C will mean the end of Siesta Promenade.
Siesta Key residents are again attempting to block the construction of the controversial mixed-use development Siesta Promenade, this time opposing a traffic light on the mainland critical to the proposal’s traffic flow.
Siesta Promenade will bring 414 apartments, a 130-room hotel and 140,000 square feet of retail and office space to U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road.
James Wallace, a member of the Siesta Key Association, has since January 2019 been involved with attempts to overturn the County Commission’s decision to approve the development.
He helped raise funds for Pine Shores resident Sura Kochman’s lawsuit against the county, which made its way to the 2nd District Court of Appeal, where it was rejected.
Since the project was approved in December 2018, Wallace has expressed concern at several hearings and workshops that Kimley-Horn consulting, which conducted the traffic analysis for Siesta Promenade, failed to account for the impact the project would have on Siesta Key.
When commissioners approved the project, they made clear construction could not begin until a traffic signal was installed at the intersection of Stickney Point Road and Avenue B and C to help manage the flow of traffic along Stickney Point Road and U.S. 41.
Now, however, Wallace is attempting to block the light, which is to be installed by the Florida Department of Transportation.
During a Feb. 4 SKA meeting, Wallace expressed concern that the light would exacerbate traffic on Stickney Point Road, which is one of two entrances to the barrier island.
“The main thing we need to worry about for Siesta Key and the future of Siesta Key are the two accesses to the key and, in particular, the attack that’s going on to the primary access to Siesta Key,” Wallace said.
FDOT has not yet announced a schedule for the light installation, but it approved permits for the project in December 2020. However, Wallace has filed a petition with FDOT that seeks to prevent the installation.
“If we’re successful with that effort, the whole project of Siesta Promenade will not go forward,” Wallace said. “ … They will not be able to go forward with that light if we get any sort of fair treatment at all.”
The petition states those who work and live on the island will lose time in stop and go traffic and the additional stoplight will place lives at risk due to emergency vehicle delays.
Currently, the level of service for the intersection of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road during peak afternoon time is rated F, which means it has near-gridlock conditions.
Wallace and many SKA residents fear that if the Siesta Promenade project and several other hotel proposals on the island move forward, the nature of the key will be changed.
“It’s not just about a light, it’s really about all of the incredible amount of traffic that we’re already seeing and how they’re going to manage that with intensified development,” SKA President Catherine Luckner said.
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