More changes coming for drivers in March
Given the combination of road construction along U.S. 41 near downtown Sarasota “and seasonal residents returning to enjoy the beautiful winter weather in Sarasota, we’re experiencing some heavy traffic days, especially for those coming off the barrier islands,” City Manager Tom Barwin wrote in his Jan. 17 newsletter.
In the past, even with all three left-turn lanes open for vehicles travelling eastbound on Gulfstream Avenue — from the Ringling Bridge — to northbound U.S. 41, traffic has been known to stack up west of Coon Key, Barwin pointed out. “Now, intermittent lane closures at 10th Street plus a lane reduction at Gulfstream [Avenue] are creating some particularly heavy traffic, especially in mid-to-late afternoon,” he added.
City staff has been in contact with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) team working on the 10th Street roundabout construction to try to alleviate the congestion, Barwin continued. “We’re told the recent significant backups we’ve seen should cease” for the next two to three weeks, he wrote, until the next anticipated lane closure near 10th Street.
As for the Gulfstream Avenue/U.S. 41 intersection: The third left-turn lane for traffic heading northbound on U.S. 41 is expected to be re-established in early March, Barwin explained. That lane has been temporarily removed while construction crews work on underground utilities and build a temporary detour roadway on the west side of U.S. 41 for traffic having to avoid the area where the U.S. 41/Fruitville Road roundabout is under construction, he noted.
After the third left-turn option has been re-established in early March, Barwin continued, the left-turn lane from northbound U.S. 41 to westbound Boulevard of the Arts also will return. “In addition, the traffic signal at Fruitville Road will be removed, so traffic will flow freely up to Boulevard of the Arts, which should improve movement from Gulfstream.”
With the removal of the traffic signal at Fruitville, he noted, Fruitville Road will be closed between Cocoanut Avenue and U.S. 41. “Again, these traffic changes are expected to occur in early March,” he wrote.
“We encourage drivers who want to make that westbound to southbound movement,” from Fruitville [Road] to U.S. 41, to start planning alternate routes now,” Barwin stressed in the newsletter. Electronic message boards will be installed prior to the Fruitville closure, alerting drivers and designating Lemon Avenue and 10th Street as the official detours to get drivers to U.S. 41, where they can then travel north or south to their destinations, he added.
“Many drivers rely on a navigational app to get around,” he continued. “[W]e’re pleased to share that Google Maps will alert its users about these significant traffic pattern changes in Sarasota. We’re reaching out to the popular app Waze for directional assistance as well.”
The temporary closure of westbound Fruitville Road from Cocoanut Avenue “will be a challenge for all of us accustomed to traveling” Fruitville Road, Barwin acknowledged. “Time is on our side to plan ahead and determine alternate routes and even consider different ways to get around,” he added, including transit, carpooling and ride sharing.
Updates on the Fruitville Road roundabout project are posted at www.us41fruitvilleroundabout.com.