As city and county leaders celebrate completion of part of improvements on Myrtle Street, County Commission approves final phase of construction

Work on segment from Orange Avenue to U.S. 41 expected to get underway later this month

On Oct. 22, leaders of the City and County of Sarasota gather for a ceremony to mark completion of a segment of the improvements to Myrtle Street. image courtesy City of Sarasota

On Oct. 22, Sarasota city and county commissioners and administrative staff members gathered on Myrtle Street in North Sarasota for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event marked what City Manager Tom Barwin noted in his Oct. 23 newsletter as the completion of long-awaited improvements.

Contractors had constructed new sidewalks on the north and south sides of Myrtle between Central Avenue and North Orange Avenue, he pointed out. “Another key aspect of the project,” he continued, “is the reconstruction and paving of the roadway and other improvements to the railroad crossing, creating a dramatically smoother ride for motorists — those who remember the bumps when driving over the tracks in the past will notice a massive improvement!”

Additionally, Barwin wrote, the project included drainage modifications, new bicycle lanes, street lighting, irrigation and landscaping. “These are significant upgrades that have created a more attractive public roadway and a safer connection for the faculty, students and families traveling to and from nearby Booker High School,” he noted.

(A county update on the project, issued this month, points out that a detour remains in place “to guide motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists around the active construction area.”)

“We are thankful for the work and coordination by Sarasota County, which has authority over the roadway as it lies just beyond the City limits, as well as Seminole Gulf Railway, which controls the railroad crossing,” Barwin wrote. “The City has been a strong advocate during years-long negotiations over easements for the project, and we have contributed more than $1.4 million, mostly in Community Development Block Grant funds, toward the costs.”

This May 4 photo shows work underway on the railroad crossing. Image courtesy Sarasota County

As then-City Commissioner Willie Shaw pointed out during the Oct. 22 ceremony, Barwin continued, the improvements in Shaw’s District 1 territory had been a dream of residents for more than 50 years. “[W]e are excited to finally see them come to fruition,” Barwin added.

In concluding that portion of the newsletter, Barwin wrote, “We also look forward to a final phase of the project in the near future that will include additional improvements to Myrtle between Orange Avenue and U.S. 41.”

In fact, just two days before the ribbon-cutting event, the County Commission unanimously approved that final phase as it voted on its Consent Agenda of routine business items.

Formally, the County Commission authorized a $2,517,261.25 contract with C-Squared Certified General Contractor of Sarasota for what county staff calls Myrtle Street Phase 2C.

A county staff update on the Myrtle Street work says Phase 2C is anticipated to begin late this month.

A graphic shows the location of the Myrtle Street Improvements project, by segment. Image courtesy Sarasota County

A staff memo provided to the commissioners in advance of the Oct. 20 meeting said, “Staff will work closely with C-Squared on the implementation and execution of [the firm’s] Maintenance of Traffic plan. This includes improved placement of variable message signs, coordinated detour routes and minimizing areas affected by adjusted traffic patterns.”

Further, on Oct. 20, the County Commission approved extra money for CDM Smith Inc., which is headquartered in Boston but has an office in Sarasota, “for additional construction engineering and inspection services for Myrtle Street Phase 2C, increasing the not to exceed amount from $594,127.25 to $738,641.71.” Part of that money, the memo explained, is for monitoring related to the railroad portion of the undertaking.

The Oct. 20 staff memo reminded the commissioners that, on Jan. 14, they approved a contract with CDM Smith for the segment of the Myrtle Street work from Central Avenue to U.S. 301.

The reconstruction of the road from U.S. 41 to U.S. 301, the memo pointed out, was divided into three phases. The improvements on the south side of Myrtle from U.S. 41 to Central Avenue — the first phase — have been completed, the memo noted. Construction of the second phase — from Central Avenue to North Orange Avenue — began in the spring and will be finished by the end of the year, the memo said.

Phase 2C, the memo continued, also will include new bicycle lanes, sidewalks, drainage improvements and the installation of lighting on both sides of the street.