FDOT plans to monitor effects of the temporary humps, then decide if raised crosswalks make sense. The installation was pushed back a week due to inclement weather.
The installation of eight temporary speed humps on St. Armands Circle is slated to begin Monday, July 15.
This process was supposed to start on July 8 but was postponed because of bad weather.
Last year, the Florida Department of Transportation agreed to implement the speed humps after a coordinated push from the city of Sarasota and the St. Armands Circle Association. Brian R. Rick, communications specialist at FDOT, said the city and the association came to FDOT with the problem of cars going too fast in the circle.
A statement from FDOT said to expect nighttime/overnight lane closures from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. once work is underway.
FDOT plans on studying the effects of the speed humps, which mimic elevated pedestrian crosswalks in how they slow motorists. If raised crosswalks are deemed viable once the speed humps are removed, FDOT hopes to eventually install raised crosswalks, though such a project would take time and require funding, Rick said.
“At the end of a year they [the speed humps] will be removed and the intent is to have a raised pedestrian crosswalk and raised intersections within and adjacent to the circle,” Rick said. “Now a raised crosswalk also facilitates the same objective, which is to get vehicles to slow down.”
A release from FDOT focused on the safety aspect of the speed humps.
“These speed humps are designed to encourage motorists to slow down when driving through the circle, enabling pedestrians to safely cross the road and reducing the number and severity of crashes,” the release read. “Unlike speed bumps that are often seen in large apartment complexes, speed humps provide a gentle transition and traffic calming environment, which can reduce speeds from 15 to 20 mph.”
Diana Corrigan, executive director of the St. Armands Circle association, said three pedestrians have been hit in her 20 years in the area, “And that's three too many,” she said.
The speed humps are made of recycled synthetic rubber. At $40,000 the project costs roughly $5,000 per speed hump. FDOT is paying for the project.
Rick said it is imperative that drivers are extra careful while the speed humps are being set up because the circle, which is already ripe for driver run-ins with pedestrians, will turn into a work zone. Most of the work will be done after business hours, Rick said.
Gloria Bloise, who said she’s worked at The Hyppo popsicle shop in St. Armands Circle for two years, had a mixed reaction to the news of the speed humps. She said they’re a good idea because tourists will sometimes walk into the street seemingly out of nowhere. On the other hand, she simply doesn’t like speed humps and sees them as inconvenient.
Jack Bennington, owner of Bennington Tobacconist on St. Armands Circle, saw the speed humps as a positive.
“It slows people down, and if you have slower vehicles you have safer walkways,” Bennington said. “People speed up on their way out of the circle.”
Sarasota City Engineer Alex DavisShaw agrees with Bennington on drivers speeding up too much once they’ve hit the exit they need on the circle.
“As you exit going toward Longboat or downtown Sarasota, vehicles pick up speed,” DavisShaw said.
Robert Allan of the Spice & Tea Exchange said the speed humps are good because drivers don’t always stick to the speed limit and pedestrians don't always cross where they're expected to.
Kathleen Marinacci, who works at Little Bo-tique Children’s Wear, had a different perspective than the gung-ho or lukewarm points of view of Bloise, Bennington, DavisShaw, Allan and Rick.
“I don’t see a necessity for speed humps,” Marinacci said. “It’s obvious you’re supposed to stop and yield for pedestrians. I’ve been here three years. You notice driving habits.”
Marinacci said tourists might go too fast when they hit the roundabout, but, she said, it’s intuitive after the first try.
In 2018, Longboat Key leaders said they were concerned the speed humps would slow traffic to the point of making it tough to get on and off the island. Mayor George Spoll suggested Longboat residents bypass the circle and drive through through residential areas as they come and go. Those streets include speed tables of their own.
“Because then, the residents will scream about taking the bumps out at St. Armands, and they have more influence, apparently, than we do,” Spoll said.