Goal is to add new eastbound lane to single-lane structure
As part of the Consent Agenda of routine business matters that they approved unanimously on Feb. 23, the Sarasota County commissioners awarded another $147,563.93 to Atkins North America Inc. “for additional design services for a roundabout at Beach Road and Midnight Pass Road” on Siesta Key.
Atkins North America is headquartered in Tampa, its website notes.
On March 1, 2021, a staff memo explained, the board members approved paying the company $269,643.02 for design engineering services for the roundabout, which the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is scheduled to begin constructing in April 2023. The undertaking is expected to last a year, the memo pointed out.
The extra funding the commissioners approved on Feb. 23, the memo explained, was necessary for Atkins to revise the “roundabout geometry” to add an eastbound lane to the single-lane design.
The company originally was supposed to complete the design by Oct. 15, 2021, the memo pointed out. The revised timeline extended that to Nov. 7 of this year.
The Scope of Work in both the original contract and the amended contract, which provided for the additional funding, noted that the design was to consider the existing site constraints, including right of way, placement of utility lines and traffic data. Further, both documents called for “a heavy focus on pedestrian and bicycle mobility.”
The original Scope of Work also said that Atkins should evaluate both “the need for exclusive right turn movements to avoid congestion” and “the need for dedicated bicycle lanes.”
The extra money for Atkins that the commissioners approved in late February already was available from two sources: the county’s Capital Improvement Program and a fund in which county gas tax revenue is set aside for projects, the staff memo said.
FDOT’s Five Year Work Program for 2022 through 2027 calls for the department to spend $2,925,252 on the roundabout construction in its 2023 fiscal year. Each FDOT fiscal year begins on July 1.
During discussions with county staff in regard to the roundabout design, Siesta Key representatives had talked of the need to ensure that the structure does not exacerbate traffic congestion on the island. The inclusion of the eastbound lane was cited as a means of improving the flow of vehicles through the roundabout.
In the spring of 2020, FDOT revived a years-old recommendation for the roundabout at the Beach Road/Midnight Road intersection, as County Engineer Spencer Anderson pointed out to the commissioners on May 5 of that year.
FDOT first aired its proposal for the project in 2014, calling the roundabout a means of improving safety at the intersection. However, the public — and some county leaders — voiced opposition to the plans at that time.
In early December 2020, with FDOT staff expressing a desire to move forward with the initiative, the commissioners voted unanimously to direct staff to proceed with the planning for the roundabout.