Finding a short-term fix for traffic congestion at U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue is challenging for local officials, but the state is working on a long-term project to improve the intersection.
The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a workshop March 28 to discuss the future of the U.S. 41-Gulfstream intersection with the public. The state has been working with the city since last summer to evaluate the best plan to improve the intersection.
After nine months of work, the state is considering two options for the intersection. One would add a roundabout to U.S. 41 and Gulfstream, which would be in line with the city’s advocacy for a network of roundabouts along U.S. 41. The other would keep the traffic signal and add a left-turn lane from northbound U.S. 41 to westbound Gulfstream. The state is also considering making no significant adjustments.
After the meeting, the state will continue to work on the plans before producing a final recommendation in November.
FDOT spokesman Robin Stublen said a confluence of factors will determine the state’s final recommendation, including crash data, vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle counts, cost and available right of way.
Roundabouts are in various phases of planning at 14th Street, 10th Street and Fruitville Road. That doesn’t necessarily mean the state will recommend another roundabout at Gulfstream, but Stublen said there are advantages to a series of roundabouts on the same street.
“What happens when you get several roundabouts on the same roadway in a particular area — it has a little bit of a calming effect on the traffic,” Stublen said. “You don’t have to worry about signal lights at the intersections where the roundabouts are installed, so traffic moves much freer.”
The city has advocated for roundabouts, and staff said the city’s relationship with FDOT has improved during the past decade. City Manager Tom Barwin said he’s optimistic the two groups will be able to work in harmony as major changes come to state roads in the city limits.
“Many of the major heavily traveled roads in the city limits are state highways,” Barwin wrote in an email. “So, we continue to keep the lines of communication open with FDOT and seek opportunities for improvement wherever possible.”
Barwin also said FDOT should begin work on adding a dedicated right-turn lane at U.S. 41 and Fruitville Road soon, with that work expected to conclude this summer.
A city roundabout project is also expected to begin soon.
On Wednesday, the city’s Development Review Committee discussed plans for a roundabout at Orange Avenue and Ringling Boulevard. City Engineer Alex DavisShaw said staff hopes to begin the project shortly after the Fourth of July parade.
The goal is to complete the bulk of the work before the Veterans Day parade in November, but the timeline is still variable.
“Because it’s funded through the Department of Transportation and not city funds, we have a couple more reviews,” DavisShaw said. “That’s really dictating the timing.”