Delays for multiple reasons lead to extra expense for Fruitville roundabout project in downtown Sarasota

FDOT expected to reimburse city half of additional $110,319

This is an aerial of the Fruitville Road roundabout taken in October. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

With votes this week approving their two Consent Agendas of routine business items, the Sarasota City Commission agreed to pay an extra $110,319.15 for an additional 26 days of work on the roundabout at the intersection of Fruitville Road and U.S. 41 in downtown Sarasota.

However, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has agreed to split the additional expense on a 50/50 basis, a city staff memo pointed out. That means the city will pay only $55,160 more.

At staff’s recommendation, the City Commission on Nov. 2 approved the reallocation of $38,130 out of its half-cent Local Option Fuel Tax Funds from its Street Reconstruction Project to the roundabout initiative, to help cover the added expense.

As of this week, the project is anticipated to be completed by Dec. 15, according to a city staff memo. Construction began in October 2019, the city’s project webpages note. The total cost is $7.47 million, those webpages add.

The staff memo prepared for the board’s regular meeting on Nov. 2 explained that the city hired EXP US Services — which has an office in Sarasota — “to provide construction management” for the roundabout. The company began that oversight during the permitting phase, the memo continued, to assist with issues such as maintaining traffic flow “because of the need to expedite the construction of the project and to limit the traveling public’s subjection to more than one seasonal traffic challenge.”

This graphic shows more details of the roundabout project. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

However, the memo noted, as a result of “unforeseen conditions, utility conflicts, delayed material receipts, response by private utilities, design conflicts and weather,” the work on the roundabout has fallen behind the planned schedule. The extra money, the memo said, would ensure that EXP would continue its work through the end of November, plus an estimated two more weeks “to close-out the FDOT reporting requirements for this permitted job.”

A chart included in the memo pointed out that the original contract called for a project timeline of 390 days. That was amended to encompass an extra 104 days, at no extra charge, the chart showed.

The original city expense for the EXP contract was $1,052,352.54, the chart noted. Adding the 26 days bumped that to $1,162,671.69.

Nonetheless, the city’s agreement with FDOT also was amended as a result of the board votes this week. The revised agreement calls for FDOT to reimburse the city up to $455,160 for “actual costs incurred” on the roundabout work, excluding local government overhead.

The original city contract with EXP was approved by the City Commission on June 17, 2019, according to documents provided to the commissioners. The contract was executed on July 8, 2019, that document added.

A rendering on the website for the Quay Sarasota development shows the roundabout planned at the U.S. 41/Fruitville Road intersection in downtown Sarasota. Image from GreenPointe Communities

“The primary goal” of the project, the city webpages explain, “is to improve connectivity, access, and safety for pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular traffic flow and operations between downtown Sarasota and the Bayfront Area. … The project limits extend from First Street to Boulevard of the Arts on US 41 and on Fruitville Road from US 41 to Cocoanut Avenue.”

Among the facets of the initiative are construction of raised islands for pedestrian refuge and installation of a HAWK pedestrian system, LED streetlights and enhanced landscaping. Additionally, city staff has been replacing utility and underground drainage structures.

A related city webpage points out that the HAWK system works as follows:

  • Signal has three lights in a triangular configuration: dual red lights above a single yellow light.
  • Signal stays at rest (inactive) until a pedestrian activates the signal by pressing a push-button.
  • Traffic flow is uninterrupted until signal is activated by a pedestrian.
  • When the signal is activated, a yellow flashing signal cautions drivers to prepare to stop.
  • Drivers stop at the sustained red light.
  • Pedestrians cross during the alternating dual red flashing lights.
  • The signal goes dark when pedestrian movement is complete; drivers may continue forward.
A still from an FDOT video shows the first part of the process for pedestrians using a HAWK crosswalk. Image courtesy FDOT

“HAWK works in conjunction with conventional pedestrian signal heads at each end of the crosswalk that indicate ‘Walk’ and ‘Don’t Walk,’” the city webpage says.

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