Graphics showing phases of Higel Avenue/Ocean Boulevard drainage project presented to Siesta Key Association members
As expected on May 11, Sarasota County Public Works Department staff installed speed cushions — or bumps — on Ocean Boulevard, just east of Hour Glass Way on Siesta Key, county Media Relations Officer Brianne Grant announced that afternoon.
“Motorists will also see new roadway signage for traffic calming near roadside parking areas, warning of the new speed cushions,” she wrote in an advisory to members of the news media.
Speed cushions, she explained, “are a series of small speed humps installed across the width of the road …” They are designed to be wide enough to make drivers slow down but narrow enough for emergency vehicles to straddle, Grant added.
Vehicles should travel between 15 mph and 20 mph when going over the cushions, she noted. The devices “are an innovative solution” that can serve as a traffic calming measure without impeding the progress of emergency vehicles.
Residents long had complained about drivers speeding into Siesta Village from the north, but county staff had not provided any recent data about speed tracking on that stretch of road until a March 14 meeting of the county’s Traffic Advisory Council. During that session, a trainee working with the county’s Traffic Engineering Division presented a chart showing the average speeds of northbound and southbound vehicles on the north end of Siesta Village. (See the related article in this issue about new multi-way stop signs that will be installed on Ocean Boulevard, thanks to a May 10 County Commission vote.)
Update on the Higel/Ocean Boulevard drainage project
A more involved project underway on the Key, as The Sarasota News Leader reported last week, is the drainage initiative on Higel Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.
It is designed to stop flooding along those roads, with new piping and swales to be used to divert stormwater ultimately to the Grand Canal.
A resident who lives in the vicinity of the work reported to the News Leader on May 11 that, after installing facets of the new drainage system on Ocean Boulevard just north of the Gleason Avenue intersection, workers removed all vestiges of a county safety railing that had stood for years on the west side of that sharp curve.
The railing has been knocked down repeatedly as drivers headed northbound have failed to negotiate that curve and have run off the road.
The owners of the house on the west side of that curve do have a privacy wall. They also have placed boulders in various locations in an effort to prevent wayward vehicles from ending up in their home.
The most recent accident in that curve was reported on April 28. The railing once again was a victim of the crash.
A county crew did put in new sod after completing the drainage work in that area, and a new pipeline is visible north of the site.
During the May 5 Siesta Key Association meeting, Director Robert Luckner pointed out to members that Anderson of Public Works had provided him with graphics showing that the drainage project is to be undertaken in three phases over approximately five months.
In the first phase, Luckner said, work would affect the portion of Ocean Boulevard from just north of that sharp curve and extend to Gleason Avenue, with only local traffic allowed in the area. Traffic on Ocean would be diverted onto Gleason to the location of the Out-of-Door Academy, which stands on Reid Street, and then back to Higel Avenue.
Phase 2, he continued, would entail the closure of Higel Avenue from the Ocean Boulevard intersection to the Reid Street intersection, plus Mangrove Point Road, which drivers use to reach Midnight Pass Road from Higel.
The final phase will entail work on Lotus Lane, Luckner added.
A postcard that residents in the affected area received from the contractor, Gator Grading & Paving, says the maintenance of traffic (MOT) detours will be set up between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, as needed.