Contract awarded for Myrtle Street improvements between Central Avenue and North Orange Avenue

Work anticipated to begin this fall

A graphic shows the segments of the Myrtle Street project. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Almost seven-and-a-half years after it was envisioned during a joint meeting of the Sarasota City and County commissions, the replacement of the Seminole Gulf Railway railroad crossing on Myrtle Avenue will get underway this fall, along with other improvements on Myrtle Street between Central Avenue and North Orange Avenue.

The work should be substantially complete by the fall of 2020, “weather permitting,” a Sarasota County staff memo noted.

Then, improvements on the segment of Myrtle Street from North Orange Avenue to west of U.S. 301 are “anticipated to start in early 2020,” the Aug. 27 memo added, though the County Commission will need to take a formal vote on that work, too.

Altogether, a separate Aug. 27 memo explained, “The Myrtle Street Improvement Project consists of 1.3 miles of two-lane roadway from east of U.S. 41 to west of U.S. 301 and includes bike lanes, sidewalks, lighting and drainage improvements. … Also included in the project area is a commercial/industrial district located on the north side of Myrtle Street from the railroad crossing east to U.S. 301.”

The project was divided into three phases:

  • Phase 2A — from U.S. 41 to Central Avenue, west of the railroad crossing. The south side of this phase has been completed.
  • Phase 2B — Central Avenue to North Orange Avenue, including the railroad crossing. On June 2, the County Commission approved an agreement with the Seminole Gulf Railway for the replacement of the crossing, along with the road widening, sidewalks, a new crossing signal system and drainage improvements within the railroad’s right of way, a staff memo explained.
  • Phase 2C — North Orange Avenue to west of U.S. 301.

As part of its approval of its Sept. 10 Consent Agenda of routine business items, the County Commission awarded another $1,297,690.60 to Halfacre Construction Co. of Sarasota for the project between Central Avenue and North Orange. Altogether, the amendment says, Halfacre will receive $4,312,026.71 for the work through Phase 2B.

The railroad crossing on Myrtle Street has been the focus of complaints for years. Image courtesy City of Sarasota in June 2016

The Aug. 27 staff memo — from Carolyn Eastwood, director of the county’s Capital Projects Division, and Spencer Anderson, director of the Public Works Department — noted that the phase from North Orange to west of U.S. 301 is estimated at $2.4 million. The Florida Department of Transportation will assist with funding for that, the memo pointed out. All the money needed for the project has been secured, the memo said.

The Halfacre amendment approved on Sept. 10 includes language about the potential of another amendment “for the completion of the remainder of the Project.”

County staff will work closely with Halfacre representatives, the memo said, to ensure traffic flow is handled as smoothly as possible while the project dubbed Phase 2B is underway. “This includes improved placement of variable message signs, coordinated detour route and minimizing areas affected by adjusted traffic patterns,” the memo added.

On Aug. 27, in approving its Consent Agenda that day, the County Commission authorized acquisition of permanent easements and temporary construction easements for the Myrtle Street work.

The memo provided to the commission in advance of that meeting explained that staff would continue negotiations with property owners to seek voluntary settlements if at all possible. The memo indicated that the county would pursue eminent domain proceedings only when those could not be avoided. Staff also noted its efforts to maintain the project schedule that had been set.

Altogether, on Aug. 27, the commission adopted six “Resolutions of Necessity” involving eminent domain acquisitions.