Funding agreement for roundabout at Fruitville Road and U.S. 41 wins City Commission approval

County Commission scheduled to vote July 10 on transfer of $4.7 million in road impact fees to city for the project

The FDOT District One project webpage shows the location of the planned roundabout. Image courtesy FDOT

The Sarasota City Commission this week unanimously approved a local funding agreement with Sarasota County to expedite the construction of a two-lane roundabout at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Fruitville Road in downtown Sarasota.

The County Commission is scheduled to vote on the agreement during its regular meeting on July 10, a city staff memo indicated.

The roundabout is expected to be completed in 2021; the proposed agreement says it must be finished by Oct. 1, 2022, “unless a written notice of project extension is provided to the County prior to that date.”

The agreement involves a transfer to the city of $4,699,367.10 in road impact fees collected by the county. If the roundabout is not under construction by Jan. 1, 2020, the agreement calls for reimbursement of the full amount to the county.

“[A]ll necessary planning and engineering” is to be completed by 2018, the agreement points out, with construction occurring from 2019 through 2021.

As the city staff memo explained, the roundabout is a joint project of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), GreenPointe Communities — the developer of the Quay Sarasota project in downtown Sarasota— and the city. In late 2016, when GreenPointe representatives won City Commission approval to proceed with the Quay Sarasota, they also discussed their plans to pay upfront for the roundabout. The July 2 city staff memo noted that the city, in turn, agreed to pay up to $5.5 million for the project, which is the amount FDOT has estimated the structure will cost. The city would reimburse GreenPointe, city staff pointed out.

The groundbreaking for the Quay Sarasota was held on May 23, as City Manager Tom Barwin noted in his May 25 newsletter. GreenPointe Communities, he wrote, “expects to work on underground infrastructure until the fall when vertical construction will begin.”

City leaders and GreenPointe Communities representatives participate in the groundbreaking for the Quay Sarasota on May 23. Photo courtesy City of Sarasota

Plans call for condominiums, a hotel and commercial and office space on the site, which is on U.S. 41 between Fruitville Road and Boulevard of the Arts.

As for the roundabout: “The majority of the funding of this project is coming from Road Impact Fees/Multi Modal Fees,” the July 2 city staff memo explains, with the balance coming from the city’s penny sales tax revenue fund. Because the county is the administrator of the road impact fees, the memo continues, the local funding agreement with the county “is the mechanism that allows for the transfer of these funds to the City.”

The agreement notes that the county listed the roundabout in its 2017-2021 Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The project includes the planning, design, right of way acquisition and construction of the roundabout with a connecting roadway of five to six lanes, the agreement adds.

The county CIP document also points out that the existing level of service for the intersection of Fruitville Road and U.S. 41 “is below the City’s adopted level of service.”

“Level of service” refers to a driver’s perception of traffic flow, with A being the best.

“This project will improve the intersection capacity and the pedestrian [level of service],” the CIP document adds.

A graphic shows details of the roundabout design. Image courtesy FDOT District One

Mayor Liz Alpert had pulled the item from the City Commission’s Consent Agenda No. I of routine business items on July 2, noting that numerical and written figures for the funding did not match in the proposed agreement.

Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch said she already had made City Manager Barwin aware of that situation.

Assistant City Engineer Daniel Ohrenstein explained that errors in the original version of the agreement provided to the commission had been corrected.

City Auditor and Clerk Pamela Nadalini added that when she transmitted a Change to the Order of the Daynotice to the public last week, regarding the July 2 agenda, the revised agreement was included in a link in the agenda. “You should have received it electronically,” she told Alpert.

Commissioner Willie Shaw had made a motion to approve the agreement before Ohrenstein explained some of the other changes in the document. Commissioner Hagen Brody had seconded that motion. Following the continued discussion, Shaw made a motion to approve the revised agreement, with Brody seconding it after noting that the original motion had been rescinded.