- December 12, 2022
Plans to build a roundabout at the intersection of Lorraine Road and Players Drive in Lakewood Ranch are moving forward.
Following a unanimous decision Dec. 6 by Manatee County commissioners to fund design costs, the concept will be developed in detail. Originally, a traffic signal was planned at that intersection with a budget of $1,730,000.
"A roundabout is the way to go," Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said. "We are going to schedule public meetings to discuss the roundabout at both Country Club East and Country Club West because it is going to affect those people."
She said the county will discuss things such as how it might affect entrance into their communities and how it might affect golf cart usage.
Baugh expects the roundabout design to come back to the commission sometime around mid-2023.
"When it comes back in front of the board, we will have a much better idea what the final cost will be," she said.
Public Works Director Chad Butzow said having the traffic circle design will allow for a closer examination on whether the roundabout is better for that intersection than a traffic signal.
The design was approved through a budget amendment for Fiscal Year 2023, drawing $381,000 from reserves in the Southeast Road Impact Fee Capital Projects Fund.
Baugh said as Lorraine Road has a straight configuration from Fruitville Road to State Road 64, there is little to slow traffic, which creates problems with safety and noise.
District 2 Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge said he was concerned that approving the design would result in the Commission moving too far “down the rabbit hole” in one direction before making a final decision between a roundabout or a signal light.
However, after an explanation of the project by Public Works Director Chad Butzow, the item was passed unanimously.
While he said it was "an extremely preliminary" look at a roundabout in that spot, Butzow said his staff already had determined a roundabout at the site was feasible. He said the design would detail a roundabout's impact further.
Butzow said one factor that influenced the idea of a roundabout was increased complaints of speeding.
He said roundabouts are seen as one of the few reasonable and accepted tools for speed management on thoroughfares, and that over the last 12 months, the anticipated future use of roundabouts in planning has grown dramatically.
“I think the scale is tipping,” he said.
Butzow said the county has been about halfway through the design phase for a traffic signal and has been detailing how to add appropriate left turn lanes on all four legs of the road, as well as how right turn lanes can be included where possible on all four legs.
County Administrator Scott Hopes called the roundabout an opportunity for the county to develop a process of engaging the staff with the community on the pros and cons of different projects.
“I think this will be the opportunity for the board to hear from staff, designers, and engineers, the options, and engage with the community and their constituents, so we all land at a decision that we can all live with,” he said.
District 2 Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge concurred, stating he had observed dissatisfaction from residents in his district regarding communication on road projects in their early stages.