FDOT using mail, visits to get word out about bridge project

The north Siesta Key bridge will undergo rehabilitation beginning June 5. Photo by Rachel Hackney

In advance of another public meeting May 22, Florida Department of Transportation officials have been distributing postcards in Siesta Village, and they have another mailing ready to go out, to ensure everyone is aware of plans for the north Siesta bridge rehabilitation beginning June 5, FDOT consultant Jennifer Stafford said May 4.

Five FDOT representatives visited Siesta May 1, she said, taking postcards around to all the businesses. “They were very appreciative and very receptive,” she told The Sarasota News Leader.

People even stopped the group on the street, she added, to ask questions.

They had started out with 500 postcards, she noted, “and I’d say I’ve got maybe 100 left.”

“They’ve been really … feet on the ground,” said Kevin Cooper, executive director of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce. “I’ve been quite impressed with the work they’ve done….”

Siesta Key Association President Catherine Luckner told members during that organization’s May 3 regular meeting that she had spoken with FDOT officials and encouraged them to make sure all the businesses on the south end of the key were aware of the bridge plans as well.

Even though the north bridge will not be closed at any time during the rehabilitation, Luckner said, more traffic is likely to come onto the island via the Stickney Point Bridge while the project is under way.

Siesta Key Village Association President Russell Matthes pointed out during his organization’s May 1 meeting and during the May 4 SKA meeting that the merchants would be ramping up their advertising while the work is under way

Luckner added that plans remain firm for the bridge construction to begin June 5. The target date for completion is Oct. 16, she added, though the project could be completed sooner.

The schedule calls for one lane of the bridge to remain open at all times, with the work under way from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., according to FDOT officials. Construction will be halted during the July Fourth holiday period (June 29 through the daytime of July 8) and Labor Day weekend.

Stafford told the Sarasota News Leader that FDOT already had sent out two mailings about the project. The first, about 10,000 pieces, she said, went to all the property owners on Siesta Key. A second mailing of about 20,000 pieces went to all property owners and residents for whom FDOT had addresses, she added.

However, because of concern that a number of residents were overlooked, she said, FDOT had worked with the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office and the U.S. Postal Service in advance of the third mailing, set to go out the second week of May.

That third effort, which the USPS calls an “Every Door Direct Mailing,” should ensure everyone who lives on Siesta or owns property on the island receives notification about the bridge plans, Stafford said.

About 700 pieces of that mailing will be going overseas, she added.

Regarding the May 22 meeting, FDOT will hold an open house about the bridge project between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Siesta Key Chapel, 4615 Gleason Ave.

“Department staff will be available to discuss the project and answer any questions,” FDOT’s District One secretary, Billy Hattaway, wrote in a letter the SKA received this week.

Additionally, Luckner noted during the SKA meeting this week that FDOT representatives would attend the organization’s June 7 regular meeting to discuss the project.

“We are going to bring a project manager with us” to that June SKA meeting, Stafford said, to help ensure that any questions members might have can be answered.

In the meantime, anyone desiring information about the north bridge rehabilitation may visit the FDOT website, www.siestakeybridge.com.