Project was rescheduled from late September because of Hurricane Ian, county staff says
New message boards that have appeared on Siesta Key, alerting drivers to a project that will start on Nov. 1, have nothing to do with yet another Sarasota County initiative, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.
Instead, they pertain to the installation of four Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) poles, as County Engineer Spencer Anderson explained to Siesta Key Association (SKA) Director Robert Luckner this week.
Luckner passed along to the News Leader materials that Anderson had provided to the nonprofit. They were included with a copy of an Oct. 25 county letter from Anderson to Brandon Wehner of Southeastern Traffic Supply in Fort Myers.
Wehner had requested county approval for the closing of Midnight Pass Road between 7857 Midnight Pass Road and 8303 Midnight Pass Road from Nov. 1 through Nov. 3. Graphics accompanying Anderson’s letter indicate that the FPL pole work will be taking place overnight in that area of the Key.
The hours listed in the letter are 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for the three days.
The work area is east of Heron Lagoon, a map shows.
The four locations where the new poles will be erected are 8303 Midnight Pass Road, 8025 Midnight Pass Road, 7887 Midnight Pass Road and 7857 Midnight Pass Road, the graphics note.
In his letter, County Engineer Anderson informed Wehner that no road closure could last more than about 15 minutes at a time. Additionally, Anderson wrote, “At their own cost, the contractor shall employ Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) deputies and vehicles at both ends of the closure area while there is active work in the right of way.”
Moreover, Anderson pointed out, “As necessary, the contractor with assistance from SCSO deputies … will escort residents through the closure area to avoid inconveniences to the traveling public.
Southeastern Traffic Supply’s website says, “Our certified and insured flaggers will keep things moving and maintain the safety of your event every step of the way.” It adds, “Rest easy and let our multi-state DOT compliance team handle the permitting for you. No lines, no hassle, no problem!”
In an Oct. 26 email to Luckner — which Anderson made clear that he had sent after Luckner had called him — pointed out that the Midnight Pass Road project had been rescheduled from late September because of Hurricane Ian.
Anderson also informed Wehner of Southeastern Traffic Supply that Portable Changeable Message Signs (PCMS) would need to be installed one week before the road closure, to “notify all affected homeowners and businesses.”
The News Leader contacted FPL to try to obtain more details about the pole work, but it did not receive any information prior to the deadline for this issue.
As of midafternoon on Oct. 27, FPL was reporting that 19 Sarasota County customers remained without power, but residents of the upcoming Siesta Key project area were not included in that count, based on an interactive FPL map.
One customer on Higel Avenue, on the north end of Siesta, was shown on that map to have no electricity. The outage at that site was reported at 12:27 p.m. on Oct. 27; the note on the map said restoration was expected by 6 a.m. on Oct. 28. The cause of the outage was damage to FPL equipment, the note added.
The customer appeared to be located almost midway between the Siesta Drive intersection and the Midnight Pass Road intersection.
Off the Key, the closest FPL outage appeared to be in the area of Gateway Avenue and Stickney Point Road, where four customers had been without power since 3:03 a.m. on Oct. 27; the company estimated they would have their electricity restored by 10:15 p.m. that day. The cause again was “Damage to FPL equipment.”