Preliminary work underway for construction of roundabout at U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue in downtown Sarasota

Crews delivering equipment and setting up maintenance of traffic signs and devices

This graphic shows facets of the design of the roundabout at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue. Image courtesy FDOT

Preliminary work on the construction of the roundabout at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue in downtown Sarasota was set to begin on Monday, March 15, Mayor Hagen Brody reported in his March 12 newsletter.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) contractor handling the initiative would have crews delivering equipment,

surveying, clearing the right of way and installing erosion control devices, Brody added in the newsletter.

FDOT’s projects advisory for Sarasota County for the week of March 14 said crews also would be setting up the maintenance of traffic (MOT) construction signs and devices.

The initial work will entail the construction of a temporary bypass road “for continued traffic flow during the roundabout construction,” Brody continued in his newsletter. A similar diversion road was built during the recent roundabout project at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Fruitville Road, he noted.

To help lessen community impacts, FDOT has assured the City that road construction requiring traffic detours and temporary lane closures will be deferred until after Easter, the traditional end of peak season, Brody also pointed out.

The $8.6-million project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2022, “weather permitting,” FDOT notes on its webpages about the undertaking.

The contractor is Russell Engineering Inc. of Bradenton, FDOT says.

The project webpages further point out that access to businesses in the area will be maintained during construction, though, at times, “that access may be limited to a single lane with flagging operations in place. The contractor will try to minimize these occurrences as much as possible and try to schedule operations at night/overnight.”

This aerial view shows how the intersection has looked. Image courtesy FDOT

Additionally, FDOT says, temporary lane closures may be in place between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays and between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekends. The public will be notified in advance of such closures, FDOT adds. “[M]otorists will be able to navigate through the project limits,” the department points out. “[T]he speed limit will be reduced to 25 mph” on U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue in the construction area, FDOT notes, adding that speeding fines are doubled in construction areas when workers are present.

In its project description, FDOT explains, “The primary goal of the US 41 improvements is to improve multi-modal mobility along the US 41 corridor, provide a safe, convenient and attractive crossing for pedestrians and bicyclists, and improve connectivity and circulation between the City of Sarasota’s Downtown Central Business District and the Bayfront area.”

FDOT lists the following benefits of roundabouts:

  • “Roundabouts have safe crossings for pedestrians and bicyclists. Slower speeds are generally safer for pedestrians.
  • “Roundabouts have fewer and less severe crashes and fewer injuries.” Roundabouts have been found to produce a 90% reduction in fatalities, a 76% reduction in injuries and a 36% reduction in all crashes.
  • “Roundabouts keep people moving, but at speeds where injury risk is greatly reduced.”
  • “Roundabouts offer non-stop travel with no waiting at stop signs or traffic signals.”
  • “Roundabouts accommodate more traffic than typical intersections.
  • “Roundabouts eliminate the cost of traffic signals and signal maintenance. During power outages, traffic still flows freely.
  • “Businesses near roundabouts have seen an increase in sales with more customers who can easily and safely drive, walk, or bike there.” Roundabouts also can mark a business district or main street, FDOT says.

Along with the new roundabout, the downtown Sarasota project will include construction of new sidewalks and pedestrian walkways, new LED streetlights, and the installation of a HAWK system with pedestrian refuge islands. Stormwater issues also will be addressed, Brody pointed out in his newsletter. Retention ponds will be reconfigured, and underground drainage structures will be replaced.

This is a still from an FDOT video that explains how HAWK systems function. Image courtesy FDOT

“The HAWK pedestrian crossing/beacon system is a high-intensity activated crosswalk beacon originally designed as a cost-effective option for protected pedestrian crossings at mid-block and un-signalized intersections,” FDOT explains. Unlike conventional pedestrian signals, the HAWK becomes operational only when a pedestrian activates it, FDOT adds. “The HAWK systems are being used with greater frequency for the additional safety they provide for pedestrians,” as well as for and for their versatility, FDOT notes.

To view a YouTube video about how HAWK systems work in roundabouts, visit this link FDOT has provided.

To learn more about the U.S. 41/Gulfstream Avenue project, click here or visit the project webpage.

As reminder, city leaders also point out that dual lane roundabouts are open along U.S. 41 at 10th and 14th streets and at Fruitville Road. “When approaching a roundabout please slow down and yield to vehicles coming from the left before entering the roundabout,” city staff emphasizes.