Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Longboat Key Mayor voices opposition to proposed changes to Fruitville Road

Mayor Terry Gans addressed Sarasota city planners at a meeting on Wednesday evening.

  • By
  • | 3:00 p.m. February 23, 2017
Sarasota plans for Fruitville Road include three traffic circles where traffic lights now control the flow of cars, trucks and pedestrians.
Sarasota plans for Fruitville Road include three traffic circles where traffic lights now control the flow of cars, trucks and pedestrians.
  • Longboat Key
  • News
  • Share

Changes to Fruitville Road between U.S. 301 and North Tamiami Trail  “must be vigorously opposed,” Longboat Key mayor Terry Gans told a meeting at Sarasota's City Hall on Wednesday.

Addressing the presenters of a two-option proposal for the east-west thoroughfare in downtown Sarasota, Gans said he believes the city’s motives are well-intentioned. He understands a desire to connect burgeoning neighborhoods in Sarasota to the downtown district, but these motives do not address Fruitville Road’s role as an arterial highway and have unintended consequences.

“Fruitville Road is a critical element of the regional transportation network,” Gans said in his prepared statement. “Like it or not, it does not exist in a vacuum of Downtown Sarasota.”

Gans noted how Fruitville Road moves traffic to Interstate 75 from not only the Key he serves, but also places such as Bird Key and Lido Key. He argued that existing construction has already strained the flow of traffic in the area, and urged “extreme caution in accepting projections that attempt to show that reducing lanes and adding circles would better serve increasing demand.”

The mayor implored city planners to examine more options to solve problems on Fruitville Road and surrounding areas, which he conceded need to be addressed.

“We realize that the city did not wish this artery’s role in the region’s road network, but wishes are not reality,” Gans said. “We would encourage serious consideration of the other alternatives that may better marry the city’s aims with the real needs of the entire network.”

“And first, do no harm,” he added.

While the mayor’s comments were met with applause by a portion of the audience, neither Chief City Planner Steven Stancel and design consultant Michael Wallwork chose to make a rebuttal.

Gans was one of about 100 people in attendance who watched as Stancel and Wallwork laid out the two options of the city’s proposal.

One option includes reducing Fruitville to a two-lane road between North Lemon Avenue and Cocoanut Avenue, with roundabouts at those two intersections as well as Central Avenue. Bicycle lanes would be removed, and sidewalks would be widened to 16 feet along the three-intersection stretch.

The alternative includes widening sidewalks to 10 feet and removing bike lanes.

Either option would cost the city nearly $10 million. Due to funding, the project would need to be completed in phases, Stancel said.

Even if the city does not get approval to pursue either of the choices discussed, Sarasota must spend $3.5 million making traffic signals in the Fruitville Road area hurricane-compliant, Wallwork explained.


Latest News