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Work moves to the traffic circle at US 41/Gulfstream Avenue roundabout project

A new phase of roundabout construction will bring three 90-day intersection closings. FDOT signals re-striping of Ringling Bridge to aid Bay Runner will start soon.

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Work in the roundabout on U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue has entered its latter stages, a phase when the roundabout itself will begin to take shape. Although construction on what will be the actual traffic circle has begun, work on the approaches to the circular intersection continues.

During Wednesday’s monthly briefing on the project by the Florida Department of Transportation, Project Engineer Pinky Pakalapati said crews will begin to remove asphalt in the area of the traffic circle as construction continues on the east side of U.S. 41, which will result in the closing of intersections at Palm Avenue, First Street and Second Street for approximately three months.

During the intersection closures, motorists can access U.S. 41 from Cocoanut Avenue.

Island-bound traffic makes a turn toward Ringling Bridge.
Island-bound traffic makes a turn toward Ringling Bridge.

“The work zone is now moved into the roundabout area and you can see that all that material has been moved out of that area and the contractor has started removing the old asphalt that's in that roundabout construction area,” Pakalapati said. “They started shaping up the roundabout so that they can put some base material in and prepare for the curb in the middle of the roundabout.”

Following the holiday weekend, crews will be working on Saturdays through the end of the project.

“They will work all the Saturdays from now on,” Pakalapati said. “They are planning to use Saturday as their day for cleanup and gathering their material for the coming week, but there will be activity over the weekends.”

The project has experienced delays due to materials and labor shortages. Concrete makers, for example, have been forced to ration production in order to serve all projects, if in a diminished capacity. Within the past month, paving was delayed for a week when the asphalt plant used by the contractor was temporarily shut down.

“The shortages of material and labor are definitely real,” Pakalapati said. “Because they couldn't find people they're struggling, and the people that they have are moving on or going to different companies. They are definitely struggling with that, but they are doing everything that they can to get this project moving as fast as they can.”

Still, the project remains on schedule for completion by the end of the year, although when the roundabout does open for traffic, minor cosmetic work will likely continue for several weeks.

“Projected completion is late fall, Pakalapati said.”They're expecting that to be closer to Thanksgiving, or maybe a little bit earlier. The roundabout will be functional. We'll still have some odds and ends and striping, things that might not affect traffic, but the full benefit of the roundabout should be available at that time.”


Ringling Bridge striping

Not within the scope of the roundabout project but immediately adjacent to it is the impending project to re-stripe the Ringling Bridge to accommodate Sarasota Bay Runner trolley operations. The objective is a dedicated lane for the Bay Runner.

One citizen on the call expressed concerns that the project will cause safety issues by narrowing the two travel lanes in each direction. Alice Ramos, community outreach manager of Valerin Group on behalf of FDOT, said details will be shared as they emerge.

“There will be adjacent striping right up to our project,” Ramos said. “It's in the works right now. We don't have the specific details yet, but as soon as I get them I will throw them into the our weekly Roadwatch and into these project update meetings so everyone's in the loop as to what's going on.”

The next update meeting about the roundabout project is scheduled for June 22.


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