FDOT still planning for construction to start in summer of 2022
Plans for construction of a single-lane roundabout at the intersection of Midnight Pass Road and Beach Road on Siesta Key moved forward this week, thanks to another unanimous Sarasota County Commission vote on the design work.
As part of their approval of their March 9 Consent Agenda of routine business items, the commissioners agreed to pay Atkins North America $269,643.02 for its engineering services.
County staff had estimated that the total expense of the roundabout design would be $360,000.
The funds will come out of a “pot” containing gas tax revenue that has been set aside for the county’s Traffic Operations, Safety and Signalization Program, a March 9 staff memo noted.
Provided to the board members in advance of their meeting this week, that memo also noted that the board members approved the funding with a vote on Jan. 26.
The construction of the roundabout is planned in coordination with the resurfacing of Midnight Pass Road from the Stickney Point Road intersection to Shadow Lawn Way, which is an entrance to the Siesta Isles neighborhood. That undertaking is scheduled for the summer of 2022, Spencer Anderson, director of the county’s Public Works Department, has told the commissioners.
The March 9 staff memo also recapped the history of the roundabout project. It explained that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) initially proposed the roundabout during a March 10, 2015 workshop during which it exhibited alternatives for the Beach Road/Midnight Pass intersection.
Although FDOT wanted to proceed with the roundabout, the memo continued, members of the public opposed the idea. “The primary areas of concern were lack of familiarity/comfort with roundabouts and how pedestrians would be safely accommodated,” the memo explained.
Since 2015, the memo pointed out, “FDOT has proceeded slowly with the project,” and it has reached the 60% point in the design process.
As part of the “road swap” agreement with FDOT — which gave the department ownership of River Road in South County between U.S. 41 and Interstate 75 in exchange for the county’s assuming control of roads on Siesta Key — “the potential of reconsidering the roundabout alternative was discussed,” the memo added.
The memo did note that Anderson and other staff members conducted a survey of county residents in October 2020 to determine their views of the revived roundabout proposal. However, the memo did not point out that the majority of respondents continued to oppose the idea.
As Catherine Luckner, president of the Siesta Key Association, has noted on more than one occasion, the survey results showed that 67% of the respondents wanted a signalized intersection to remain in place, though some of them did favor improvements at the intersection.
The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce has expressed support for the roundaboutbecause of concerns that modifications to the signalized intersection would eliminate the “free flowing” right-turn option onto Midnight Pass Road for drivers headed southbound.
Details in the scope of work
The scope of work for the project, which was included in the March 9 agenda packet, noted that Atkins “will evaluate the need for exclusive right turn movements to avoid congestion. This analysis will include evaluating the need for dedicated bicycle lanes.”
Additionally, the scope of work calls for Atkins to determine whether any right of way or easements will be necessary for the construction of the roundabout. Among other details, it calls for Atkins representatives to “conduct a visual reconnaissance of the … intersection … to identify typical, key, and anomalous site features. Up to two field reviews are anticipated for this Project.”
“The design will consider the existing site constraints including right of way, utilities, survey, geotechnical data and traffic data provided by the County and [FDOT] as a basis for the design,” the document adds. “The improvements will have a heavy focus on pedestrian and bicycle mobility.”
Further, the document says that Atkins “shall provide a detailed project activity/event schedule with milestones required to meet the completion date of October 15, 2021 for design.”
The company also must prepare a maintenance of traffic plan “to address the staging of construction, traffic flow, temporary road closures and temporary lane shifts.”
Further, the scope of work notes, “One public meeting will be held on this Project at the discretion of the County. Services performed by [Atkins] include preparation of graphics displaying the details of the Project, attendance of up to three project team members at the meeting to interact with the public, and documentation of comments received at the meeting. A total of one meeting is anticipated.”
The document also says, that, along with completing the design of the roundabout, Atkins will prepare the necessary construction documents and handle the permitting.