Custom-made culvert being installed under U.S. 41 between Fruitville Road and Second Street to improve the stormwater system
The third left-turn lane for drivers heading east on Gulfstream Avenue who want to head north on U.S. 41 will not be back in operation until March, Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin reported in his Feb. 14 newsletter.
Just a week earlier, Barwin wrote that city staff anticipated that turn lane would be back in place by early this week.
The changes drivers are contending with near downtown Sarasota are related to construction of a two-lane roundabout at the intersection of Fruitville Road and U.S. 41.
In his Feb. 14 newsletter, Barwin explained, “Since last week’s update, we learned a custom-made box culvert designed to improve stormwater flow beneath US 41 to Sarasota Bay has been manufactured and soon will be delivered on site.
“To install this critical infrastructure,” Barwin continued, the contractor, Wright Construction, will have to dig approximately 5 to 6 feet beneath U.S. 41, between Fruitville Road and Second Street. “To minimize impacts, this work will be done overnight during the next few weeks, with at least one lane remaining open in each direction. By morning rush hour, all traffic lanes will reopen,” he noted.
“Improving the stormwater conveyance system is very important in that area,” he stressed, as that part of the city has low elevation and is prone to flooding “while becoming more susceptible as sea levels rise.”
The U.S. 41-Fruitville Road roundabout project remains on schedule to be completed in the fall of this year, Barwin added. City staff anticipates that, by early March, new traffic patterns for the project will be in place, he continued, including the return of the third left-turn lane from Gulfstream Avenue to northbound U.S. 41; the westbound closure of Fruitville Road from Cocoanut Avenue to U.S. 41; and new bypass lanes west of the U.S. 41-Fruitville Road intersection. Regularly updated information is available at www.US41FruitvilleRoundabout.com.
Barwin also encouraged drivers “to consider traveling during off-peak hours if you can, monitor traffic apps and websites (https://www.smarttrafficinfo.org/ provides real-time traffic camera views) and consider walking, biking and taking transit if possible.”
The roundabout at U.S. 41-Fruitville Road and one planned at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue “have been part of the community’s vision to improve Bayfront connectivity and traffic flow for over two decades, dating back to 1999 when roundabouts along US 41 were identified in the Downtown Master Plan,” Barwin pointed out.
In March 2019, an engineering report that Sarasota consulting firm Kimley-Horn and Associates completed and sent to the Florida Department of Transportation stated that after the roundabout has been completed at U.S. 41 and Fruitville Road, drivers’ delays should be reduced by 51% during peak hours in February and by 53% during March peak travel hours, compared to the delays associated with a traditional signalized intersection, Barwin pointed out.
The report also showed that a roundabout at Gulfstream Avenue “will have a positive impact on traffic congestion,” with a 29% reduction in delay during peak hours in February and a 41% drop in March. “These are significant reductions in wait time, especially for those going to/from the barrier islands,” he wrote.
Moreover, Barwin noted, the Federal Highway Administration reports 35% fewer crashes occur in a roundabout than at a signalized intersection. “In addition, the slower speeds greatly increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists,” he added.