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Longboat explores plans for GMD multiuse trail, updates roundabout funding

An FDOT resurfacing project is planned for the sidewalk along Gulf of Mexico Drive that the town is hoping to widen. A new funding source is identified for the Broadway roundabout.

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  • | 2:00 p.m. March 2, 2023
Renderings include the possible design of a 12-foot wide multiuse trail on the east side of Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Renderings include the possible design of a 12-foot wide multiuse trail on the east side of Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Courtesy rendering
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A future Florida Department of Transportation sidewalk resurfacing project has caused a tricky situation for the town of Longboat Key. 

As part of the completed Gulf of Mexico Drive Complete Streets Corridor Plan, the town planned to replace the 8-foot sidewalk on the east side of the island with a 12-foot-wide multiuse trail. 

Because GMD is a state road, the town has been working in concert with FDOT throughout the completion of the corridor plan and as it moves forward with desired projects. At the beginning of February, town staff met with the department as part of a transitional meeting as Howard Tipton took over town manager responsibilities from Tom Harmer. 

FDOT has expressed plans to replace the sidewalk with one of the same size as part of its Gulf of Mexico Drive resurfacing projects. 

The current state of sidewalks on the east side of Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Courtesy photo

Currently, FDOT plans to spend $4 million on the sidewalk replacement in addition to the $6.2 million planned for resurfacing the Manatee County portion of Gulf of Mexico Drive. 

The Manatee County resurfacing is planned in FDOT’s fiscal year 2025 budget. The Sarasota County resurfacing portion, which is estimated to cost $6.4 million, is planned in the fiscal year 2026 budget. 

Since the money is meant for resurfacing existing infrastructure, the FDOT funds can only be used to replace the multiuse path as is. 

“They were very clear that the dollars they use to resurface and replace like-for-like cannot be used to upgrade or enhance,” Public Works Director Isaac Brownman said. 

After the town explained to the department its desire to increase the width of the trail, the department explained that because of the funding source those funds cannot be used to expand the roadway or the sidewalk. 

FDOT told the town it would review the request and develop a cost estimate for the desired additional width and to address drainage. 

Town staff has already submitted a SUN Trail grant application for the 12-foot-wide trail as part of this year’s grant cycle. 

Broadway roundabout update

Manatee County and FDOT have been working on an arrangement for the county to purchase a piece of property in Parrish from the transportation department. 

The purchase is expected to cost about $1.68 million. FDOT has committed to the town that such funds would be earmarked for the Broadway roundabout construction. 

Design for the circle is about 90% complete, and town staff are awaiting updates of the probable cost for completion. Manatee County has provided funding for half the cost of the design, $150,000. 

Design of the Broadway at Gulf of Mexico Drive is about 90% complete.
Courtesy photo

The most recent estimate had construction costing between $2 million and $2.5 million. Any remaining costs over the $1.68 million from FDOT would be the responsibility of the town or Manatee County. 

Brownman is hopeful that the change in county administration will not cause issues with previously agreed upon terms, including the county carrying out the construction. 

“All of that was agreed upon with (former county administrator) Dr. Hopes,” he said. “We will have to see how that all shakes out, but for now from our perspective Manatee County is handling construction.”

The procedural timeframe for FDOT to include funding in its work program is about two years from the time the purchase from the county is completed. 

Construction of the roundabout will likely take at least one year to complete. 

According to the town, the goal of constructing the roundabout on Broadway Street at Gulf of Mexico Drive is to help slow down traffic, provide for safer vehicular crossings and left turns, address significant elevation changes and enhance bicyclist and pedestrian safety.