Nearly $2.1 million more from FDOT approved for construction of Pine Place/Ringling Boulevard roundabout in downtown Sarasota

Project expected to begin early next year

This aerial map shows the intersection of Pine Place and Ringling Boulevard. In the lower left corner of the image, a portion of the Sarasota County Administration Center is visible. A U.S. Post Office is across Ringling from the Administration Center. Image from Google Maps

In voting unanimously to approve their Consent Agendas of routine business matters on their Dec. 8 meeting agenda, the Sarasota city commissioners took the necessary steps to accept more money from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for the construction of the roundabout at the intersection of Ringling Boulevard and Pine Place.

The Agenda Request Form for one of the items explained that, on May 17, the city entered into the original agreement with FDOT, which called for the department to provide the city $1,977,000 for the project.

However, the form continued, the city received only two bids for the initiative on Aug. 8. The lowest, the form noted, was $3,722,466. Therefore, on Aug. 16, city staff submitted a new request to FDOT for an additional $2,093,466, because the “bid responses [returned] higher than expected.”

FDOT staff agreed to adjust the maximum award to $4,070,466, the form added.

The March draft of the project priorities of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, whose members represent the local governments as well as citizens of the two-county area, placed the Pine Place roundabout as No. 1 on the list involving partnerships with FDOT.

In May, Jan Thornburg, general manager of the city’s senior Communications Department, told The Sarasota News Leader that no construction schedule had been determined as of that time. In response to a News Leader inquiry following the Dec. 4 votes, Thornburg reported, “A construction contact is expected to be brought to the City Commission next month with construction starting in early 2024.”

The Project Description in the FDOT funding agreement explains that the roundabout will encompass 0.2 miles and that it will have a landscaped center. Among the other improvements to the intersection, the document notes, will be “irrigation, drainage and utility adjustments,” including new and replacement light poles”; “crosswalks at the four legs of the roundabout”; a truck apron — to ensure that larger vehicles can negotiate the roundabout and its approaches; “in-road warning lights controlled by automatic activation bollards at the crosswalks”; “a new bus stop,” which will include a shelter; and “paving, striping and markings to match the bicycle and pedestrian enhancements to the Ringling Trail.”

This is an engineering drawing for the roundabout, as shown in the solicitation for construction bids that the city issued earlier this year. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

As the city’s website explains, “The City of Sarasota is reimagining Ringling Boulevard to enable safe access for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. Ringling Trail provides accessibility to and from the Legacy Trail at Payne Park to Downtown Sarasota while connecting [users] to shops, offices, homes, and parks.”

In an Aug. 16 email to the FDOT secretary for District 1 — which includes Sarasota County — City Manager Marlon Brown wrote, “The recent completion of Ringling Blvd Compete Streets has enhanced bicycle, transit, and pedestrian activity, contributing to regional mobility and connectivity. The proposed roundabout at Ringling Blvd and Pine Place is vital, given its proximity to key municipal, county, federal buildings, utility providers, local businesses, and residential units. The project aligns with the City’s resiliency, hazard mitigation strategies, and regional improvement plans, including safety, mobility, infrastructure, technology, and multimodal enhancements.”