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City receives MPO blueprint for decades of transportation projects

Sarasota city commissioners approve the Sarasota/Manatee MPO 2045 long-range priority list of transportation improvement projects. Most have a construction start date of 2030 and beyond.

The U.S. 41 roundabout at Gulfstream Avenue is the fourth on the state highway along Sarasota's bay front with four more in the early planning stages.
The U.S. 41 roundabout at Gulfstream Avenue is the fourth on the state highway along Sarasota's bay front with four more in the early planning stages.
Photo by Harry Sayer
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The bad news for construction-weary residents of Sarasota is that there are plenty of road projects on the horizon here.

The good news that most of the projects are five to eight years — and beyond — from breaking ground. 

That was the dichotomy presented to Sarasota City Commissioners on Monday by Alvimarie Corales, the city’s chief transportation planner, in her annual report of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization 2023 Transportation Project Priority List.

Prepared by the region’s requisite planning body that covers both Sarasota and Manatee counties, the list highlights all road projects in various stages of the planning pipeline, more than 20 within the city limits. 

Enhanced streetscapes and complete street concepts on 10th Street from the bay front to Orange Avenue are among the city's Sarasota In Motion plan.

"A lot of the projects look like they're imminent, like they’re going to happen any second now and I know some of the residents are suffering from construction fatigue,” said Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch. “This is not all happening in the next week. These these are really long-term plans and the funding and the permitting, it all takes takes time to get into place.”

Changes to Boulevard of the Arts are also envisioned one day.

Most of the road construction projects, not including various traffic management infrastructure upgrades, within the city on the MPO 2045 plan show a start date of 2030 and beyond. Those range from intersection improvements at University Parkway/U.S. 41 at $2.34 million to shared-use paths between U.S. 41 and Interstate 75 along Fruitville Road and University Parkway at $14.54 million. 

The report included the 10 priority projects in the Sarasota In Motion plan. They include:

A protected bicycle lane is one of the features on the Ringling Boulevard "complete street" project, here marked in green paint as it approaches the roundabout at Orange Avenue. More complete street projects are on the city's Sarasota In Motion transportation improvement list.
Photo by Andrew Warfield

1. Expand city trail network

The project includes walking and biking connections throughout the city. Treatments may include off-road trails, protected bike lanes, wayfinding signage, sidewalk widening and implementation of multimodal connections plan. 

  • Trail connections to the bay, including Oak Street, Ringling Boulevard bikeway, Alderman Trail, Lukewood Park Trail.
  • Connecting neighborhoods to Legacy Trail
  • Enhance connections from North Sarasota neighborhoods to The Bay park
  • Bobby Jones Golf Club park to Legacy Trail

Primary modes: Pedestrian, bike

Project score: 85/100

2. Streetscapes for east-west corridors

Treatments may include wider sidewalks, protected bike lanes, on-street parking, landscaping, decorative lighting, street furniture, ADA improvements, roundabouts, undergrounding of utilities and multi-use trails.

  • 10th Street from the bay front to Orange Avenue
  • 12th Street from Orange Avenue to Tuttle Avenue
  • 17th Street from Orange Avenue to city limits

Primary modes: Pedestrian, bike, car

Project score: 80/100

3. North Legacy Trail
  • Continue Legacy Trail through the city center from Payne Park and Fruitville Road to the county limit with further connection into Manatee County
  • Rails with Trails project
  • Preserve rail line for potential future light rail connection between Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and downtown Sarasota

Primary modes: Pedestrian, bike

Project score: 78/100

4. Shade Avenue Complete Street

From Fruitville Road to the south city limit. Potential improvements may include: 

  • Adding bike lane
  • Wider sidewalks
  • Lighting
  • Multiuse pathway
  • Undergrounding of utilities
  • Landscaping enhancements

Primary modes: Pedestrian, bike, car

Project score: 77/100

5. Core Route transit Improvements

May include trolleys or other large, medium or small vehicles; covered stations; transit vehicle priority; pedestrian crossings; pedestrian access and multimodal/micromobility hubs at key destinations. Provide high frequency service with extended hours of operations.

Transit circulators to connect:

  • New College/Airport
  • St. Armands Trolley Route
  • Hospital
  • Downtown

Primary modes: Pedestrian, bus

Project score: 77/100

6. Cocoanut Avenue and Second Street Roundabout

Install new roundabout at the intersection of Cocoanut Avenue and Second Street to improve vehicle flow and pedestrian safety. Improvements may include:

  • Landscaped center islands
  • Public art
  • Reduced Pedestrian crossing distances
  • Traffic calming

Primary modes: Pedestrian, bike, car

Project score: 73/100

7. Fruitville Road Complete Street

Fruitville Road from U.S. 41 to U.S. 301. Improvements may include:

  • ADA improvements
  • Widen sidewalks
  • Narrow lane width for safer sidewalks
  • Improve crossings at Cocoanut, Lemon, Central and Orange avenues with leading pedestrian intervals at traffic signals
  • High-visibility pedestrian crosswalk markings
  • Bike detection at traffic signals
  • Enhanced bus stops
  • Parallel bikeways along Second  and Fourth streets

Primary modes: Pedestrian, bike, bus, car

Project score: 73/100

8. Main Street Redesign

Main Street from U.S. 41 to U.S. 301. Treatments may include:

  • Conversion from angled to parallel parking
  • Widening sidewalks
  • Landscaping amenities
  • Pedestrian mall at certain times/locations

Primary modes: Pedestrian, car

Project score: 71/100

9. Ringling Causeway/Coon Key Bridge

State Road 789 from U.S. 41 to Washington Drive. Corridor bridges enhanced with dedicated lanes for walking, biking and transit vehicles.

Primary modes: Pedestrian, bike, bus, car

Project score: 71/100

10. Boulevard of the Arts

From the bay front to Orange Avenue. Improvements may include:

  • Intersection improvements
  • Streetscape improvements
  • Reduced pedestrian crossing distance
  • Wider sidewalks
  • Separated bike lanes
  • Undergrounding of utilities

Primary modes: Pedestrian, bike, car

Project score: 68/100

Project scores are based on a scale of 100 with 20 points maximum each in five categories.

The Sarasota/Manatee long-range transportation plan is updated every five years and spans a 25-year transportation project plan within Sarasota and Manatee counties, and jurisdictions within them.

"It also lists projects for federal and state funding to be submitted as project priorities,” Corales said. “The MPO project priorities list gets updated annually and we submit annually. The projects need to be in the long-range transportation plan in order to be eligible for MPO funding.”



Andrew Warfield

Andrew Warfield is the Sarasota Observer city reporter. He is a four-decade veteran of print media. A Florida native, he has spent most of his career in the Carolinas as a writer and editor, nearly a decade as co-founder and editor of a community newspaper in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

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