Roundabout at Orange and Ringling nearing completion

St. Armands parking garage construction to start before end of April

An engineering drawing shows facets of the landscaping plan for the new Orange Avenue roundabout. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

The roundabout at the intersection of Orange Avenue and Ringling Boulevard in downtown Sarasota “is nearing completion,” City Manager Tom Barwin reported to the City Commission this week.

Staff anticipates having it open by May 1, he added. In the meantime, he asked residents to keep in mind that the shops and restaurants in Burns Square and Burns Court remain open. Businesses always “take a bit of a hit during a construction project,” he added on April 16.

That project, which began in late fall of 2017, carried an expense of $875,914.46, according to the contract the City Commission approved in October 2017; the state and federal governments provided the funding. The contract was awarded to C-Squared Certified General Contractor of Sarasota, which was the lower of two bidders.

At that time, Jan Thornburg, senior communications manager for the city, told The Sarasota News Leader, “The overall project should be completed in approximately 4 months (120 days).”

City staff had pushed for the delay of the work until after high tourist season ended, but a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) representative had informed city staff that such a postponement could lead to the city’s losing federal money it had received for the roundabout.

The April report from Barwin was among several transportation project updates he and FDOT have provided over the past week.

During the City Commission meeting, Barwin also reported that the construction of the St. Armands Circle parking garage “will hopefully begin next week.” If not, he continued, it should be underway before the end of April.

A graphic provides details about the site plan for the St. Armands parking garage. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

The goal is to have the ribbon cutting “by Christmastime,” Barwin said, with the structure opening to the public during the last part of the holiday season. (See the related article in this issue.)

The same day Barwin made his remarks to the commission, FDOT announced via Twitter that it has begun construction of the planned right-turn slip lane from northbound U.S. 41 to eastbound Fruitville Road in downtown Sarasota. Until the end of April, the Twitter announcement said, the right northbound lane on U.S. 41 would be closed.

That project has been designed to alleviate traffic back-ups to Lido, St. Armands and Longboat keys, especially during the height of tourist season. FDOT also has enabled eastbound drivers on Gulfstream Avenue to make left turns from a third lane, so they can proceed northbound on U.S. 41.

A graphic posted on Twitter on April 16 shows the area where the temporary closure of the northbound lane on U.S. 41 will begin to make way for the slip lane project. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

Finally, city staff continues to caution drivers about the construction of the roundabouts on U.S. 41 at the 10th and 14th street intersections.

In his April 13 newsletter, Barwin wrote, “We have been in close contact with FDOT and project contractors to

ensure residents and business owners receive advance notice of potentially disruptive night work and other issues.”

On April 23 and 24, between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., he added, crews are scheduled to be at the 14th Street site, “cutting and capping a 6-inch water main.” Barwin noted, “Temporary lane closures may occur and construction noise may be heard in the area.” He added, “A temporary water shutdown will be needed and the timing is being closely coordinated with The Reserve to minimize impact on that business.” The Reserve, located at 1322 N. Tamiami Trail, is a bookstore and coffee house.

Barwin also asked drivers to please “keep in mind the speed limit through the construction area is reduced to 30 mph, and speeding fines are doubled when workers are present.”