Project scheduled to get underway this spring
On Thursday, Jan. 27, the District One staff of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will hold a public meeting about a design-build project to widen River Road (State Road 777) from north of U.S. 41 to south of Interstate 75 in Sarasota County, FDOT has announced.
“The purpose of the public meeting is to present information on this 5-mile project to widen the roadway to six lanes” between U.S. 41 and Center Road, and to four lanes between Center Road and I-75, a news release explains. Construction is scheduled to begin this spring.
Among other facets of the project will be raised medians, wildlife crossings, pavement markings, lighting, and “Intelligent Transportation System features,” FDOT points out.
“The project limits stretch for 5.06 miles on River Road/State Road 777, an FDOT webpage says. “River Road is a two-lane undivided facility with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour (mph). Intersections at East Venice Avenue, at Center Road, and at West Villages Parkway are signalized,” that webpage notes.
The completion of the project is anticipated in early 2025, FDOT says. The estimated cost of the undertaking is $47.5 million, a webpage adds.
The Sarasota County Commission worked unsuccessfully for years to gain FDOT support for the road widening initiative. FDOT staff had explained to county leaders that as long as River Road was under county control, the state could not make the improvements a priority.
Finally, in 2017, then-County Administrator Tom Harmer announced that county staff had been working with FDOT representatives on the idea of a “road swap” to facilitate the work. County leaders finally gained FDOT approval to give FDOT authority over the portion of River Road between U.S. 41 and I-75. In return, the county assumed authority over roads FDOT had controlled on Siesta Key and the two approaches to the barrier island.
“To allow for maximum participation,” the news release about the informational meeting points out, an open house will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. to allow in-person attendees to view project exhibits and speak with FDOT staff. The in-person meeting will be held at the Englewood Sports Complex, which is located at 1300 S. River Road, Englewood.
“All in-person attendees will be encouraged to follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines, including social distancing,” the FDOT webpages say. “Masks are optional. Participants who are not feeling well should utilize a remote attendance option.”
During that same time frame as the open house, the release notes, remote attendees may view project exhibits at www.swflroads.com/riverroad/us41toi75/; they may log into GoToWebinar or dial in to the meeting audio: 1-213-929-4212. Use code 898-785-202 upon the start of the event, FDOT points out.
Advance registration for both in-person and online platforms is requested, the release says. Registration information, additional project information, and instructions on how to submit comments for the public record are available on the project webpage, http://www.swflroads.com/riverroad/us41toi75/. Public comments received by Feb. 7 will become part of the project record, the release adds. Questions may be submitted to Andy Orrell, director of public information for District One, at Andy.Orrell@dot.state.fl.us or to a consultant public information officer, Olivia Smith, at Olivia.Smith@dot.state.fl.us.
The Jan. 27 meeting has been planned in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes, the release notes. Additionally, persons who require special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or persons who require translation services (free of charge), should contact Cynthia Sykes, District One Title VI coordinator, at 863-519-2287 or at Cynthia.Sykes@dot.state.fl.us at least seven days prior to the public meeting, the release points out.
Individuals who are hearing- or speech-impaired may use the Florida Relay Service (TDD: 1-800-955-8771 or Voice: 1-800-955-8770) to contact FDOT regarding the project.