$4-million FDOT grant for Fruitville Road widening project formally added to county’s project budget

Construction contract likely not to be awarded until 2026 fiscal year

The Sarasota County Commission this week voted unanimously this week to add a $4-million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to the county’s budget for the widening of Fruitville Road to four lanes from Debrecen Road to Lorraine Road.

The total project cost has been estimated at $24.8 million, a county staff memo points out. Additional funding may come from the county’s fourth penny sales tax program — Surtax IV — which will begin on Jan. 1, 2025 and continue through Dec. 31, 2039, thanks to the success of a county referendum on the November 2022 General Election ballot. Yet other proposed sources are gas tax revenue and additional grants, the memo says.

Pending right of way acquisition, the memo points out, the county likely will advertise a solicitation for construction bids late in the 2025 fiscal year, which will begin on Oct. 1, 2024. The construction contract is expected to be awarded in the 2026 fiscal year, “pending funding availability,” the memo adds.

During the commission’s regular meeting on April 25, Chair Ron Cutsinger expressed appreciation to state Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Lakewood Ranch, who previously was a member of the county’s Legislative Delegation. Gregory had worked to secure the $4 million in the 2022 legislative session’s appropriations bill, state records show.

State Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, filed a bill in the 2023 legislative session that seeks another $4 million for the Fruitville Road initiative.

One line on the form that must be completed for the legislative funding process asks what the appropriation would achieve. The response was, “Multi-modal roadway improvements to provide increased safety and capacity for vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic on 1.5 miles of Fruitville Road between Debrecen Road and Lorraine Road.”

Another section of that form explained, “Local residents and businesses, in additional to commuting and through travelers, on this insufficient roadway segment have become increasing [sic] dissatisfied by its lack of safe multi-modal access and heavy congestion. Multiple email, calls to the county and personal testimony at County Commission meetings can be documented to demonstrate overwhelming support to construct the proposed improvements.”

Further, the document pointed out, “Sarasota County has developed a traffic model to demonstrate the need for these funds and the proposed improvements. An independent 3rd party study can be completed if necessary.”

During the April 25 commission meeting, Cutsinger also noted that U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, a Sarasota County Republican, is seeking $10 million from Congress to be used for the Fruitville Road project.

Along with the addition of the two new travel lanes, the county staff memo notes, the project will include construction of 6-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides of the Fruitville, 7-foot-wide “buffered bicycle lanes on both sides, roadway lighting,” a median “and landscaping with a closed drainage system.”

Stormwater facilities and drainage ponds will be part of the improvements as well, the memo says.

Further, the memo explains that an analysis had found that a standard traffic signal would be better than a roundabout at the site of the future extension of Lorraine Road south of Fruitville Road. However, a roundabout is planned at the Fruitville Road intersection with Founders Club Drive, the memo adds.

In conjunction with accepting the FDOT grant during their April 25 meeting, the commissioners approved a resolution that adds another $250,000 to the project budget, with those funds coming out of the county’s gas tax revenue. That money will be used to help pay for the relocation of two Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) transmission facilities, the staff memo explains. The total cost of that FPL undertaking is not expected to exceed $700,000, the memo indicates.

1 thought on “$4-million FDOT grant for Fruitville Road widening project formally added to county’s project budget”

  1. No money available to fund this project from developers’ impact fees apparently. Taxpayers on the hook again to subsidize sprawl.

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