Sarasota considers roundabouts to improve traffic flow

11:03 PM, Feb 13, 2014   |    comments
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Sarasota, Florida- How traffic flows along US 41 in Sarasota and in downtown may be changing. The city is planning about a dozen roundabouts modeled after the one on Clearwater Beach.

When Sarasota City officials put in a roundabout at 5 points Park in Downtown traffic slowed down.

"It's attractive for the downtown area," says Mary Joe from Sarasota.

Now, if you take that single lane roundabout at 5 Points Park and place it along US 41; make it two lanes each way and add 10 roundabouts along the four mile long stretch from University Parkway south to Ringling Boulevard...

"I don't know about 41 that might be a challenge," said Mary Joe.

Rob Warner doesn't think so. He's part of US 41 Momentum, the group pushing for more roundabouts to improve the traffic flow in a car, on foot or riding a bike.

Warner says, "It'll be the Grand Boulevard from the airport across the Bay front, connecting streets in the city."

Three roundabouts are in the design phase on 14th Street, 10th Street and in downtown's Orange Avenue and Main Street intersection. All three are to be to be completed by 2016 or sooner.

There are nice more potential roundabouts along US 41: University Parkway, Myrtle Street, MLK Jr. Way, Fruitville Road, Gulfstream, Main Street and Orange Avenue. 

City officials are considering adding two other locations- one at Ringling Boulevard and Orange Avenue, and another at Ringling Boulevard and US 301.

Some of the roundabouts along US 41 are spaced within blocks from each other. Why so close?

"Slows down traffic, less air pollution, it's quieter," says Warner.

City plans show the speed limit would drop on US 41 by about 10 miles per hour to around 30 or 35 miles per hour. But Warner says traffic will keep moving. 

"It's just as quick. You don't have to stop and wait for a light."

Warner says the roundabouts are designed for safety, not just for motorists but for pedestrians too. That's why the crosswalk is set back from the roundabout. 

So, will pedestrians be any safer? 

"No I don't think so," said Mary Joe.

Sarasota County has a two-lane roundabout off Jacaranda Boulevard and Venice Avenue, and some residents who use that roundabout think it's not much safer for motorists either.  

"It's too many accidents. The elderly don't know how to drive in them and it's scary going in and out," said David Deriseis.

Warner believes if done right, roundabouts work. He said, "It's about mobility it's about livability." 

The city's long term plan would extend the number of roundabouts further south on US 41 up to Bee Ridge Road. 

Sarasota City Officials plan a community input meeting on roundabouts for Feb 27th at 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Annex.  

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