An earlier schedule for the construction of pedestrian crosswalks on Midnight Pass Road should ensure completion before Thanksgiving, the project consultant told The Sarasota News Leader this week.
Instead of beginning in October, as originally planned, the project will get under way Sept. 24, said Brian Bollas, planning and environmental manager for Parsons Brinckerhoff and a consultant to the Florida Department of Transportation, said on Aug. 29.
Moreover, Bollas said, the 45-day timeline for the work will not be constant. In fact, he said, the bulk of the work — construction of the bases for the 12 signs for flashing beacons — should take only about two weeks.
At the same time, the asphalt in the six crosswalk locations will be prepared for the layering of thermoplastic striping. The asphalt will have to cure out over a period of about 30 days, he said, before the plastic can be put down.
“Really, it’s not going to be what people might typically associate with construction,” he said of the work. “It’ll be very quick.”
“This should not be problematic for anybody,” Siesta Key Association President Catherine Luckner told the News Leader in response to the news.
On Sept. 17, FDOT will host an open house at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, located at 5394 Midnight Pass Road, for members of the public to see the final conceptual plans for the project and ask any questions, Bollas said.
The meeting will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the church’s parish hall.
The crosswalks were planned in response to public complaints about difficulty crossing Midnight Pass Road between the Beach Road and Stickney Point Road intersections, especially during season.
Following a three-hour meeting held Dec. 6 at St. Michael’s, FDOT sent out two surveys to the owners of all the condominiums in the 34 complexes along the approximately 1-mile stretch of affected road.
In response to those surveys, FDOT first selected four locations for the painted crosswalks with flashing beacon signs that people can turn on when they are ready to cross the road. In response to further public comment, FDOT added two more locations.
The crosswalks will be placed at the following sites:
• Sarasota Surf & Racquet Club
• Gulf & Bay Club/Wells Fargo
• Siesta Royale/Midnight Cove
• Excelsior/Siesta Harbor
• Peppertree Bay
• The Palm Bay Club
“FDOT has really been very good about public information and all the requests that we have made” relative to the project, Luckner said. As with the rehabilitation work on the north Siesta bridge, she added, FDOT has done “such a good job of alerting people” about what to expect with its projects.
Although the original cost estimate for the six crosswalks was $155,800, Bollas said this week that an updated estimate will be provided during the Sept. 17 open house. The contractor, he added, is Florida Safety Contractor Inc., based in Thonotosassa, northeast of Tampa.
While members of the Siesta Key Condominium Council had pressed for a reduced speed limit along the stretch of road, no plans have been announced to lower the speed limit from 35 mph to 30 mph.
Last year, the council was successful in getting the Sarasota County Commission to lower the speed limit from 35 mph to 30 mph along Beach Road from the Midnight Pass Road intersection to Siesta Village.
A flyer distributed in May during an FDOT open house on both the north bridge project and pedestrian crosswalks projects said, “The FDOT found the currently posted speed limit within the [crosswalk] project area is justified based on recently performed speed analyses. The FDOT will continue to monitor the corridor as well as the posted speed [on the] County-owned portion of the road north of Midnight Pass Road/Beach Road intersection.”
For more information about the crosswalk project, visit www.siestakeypedislands.com.