First two U.S. 41 roundabouts inching forward

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Round and round you'll go. Once Sarasota completes plans to install nearly a dozen roundabouts in a 8 mile stretch on U.S. 41, your head may be spinning.

The first two rotaries will be at U.S. 41 and 10th Street, and U.S. 41 and 14th Street.  Supporters say it'll make the road more attractive.

"The city public arts committee is already planning to erect iconic sculptures in the middle of each roundabout," said Rod Warner, a private citizen with a big interest in the traffic rotaries dotting the highway between University Parkway and Orange Avenue.

Florida transportation officials showed off plans at the Van Wezel Tuesday night.  Most people like what they saw, but some are curious how side-street traffic will be able to get in.

"The one issue I'm concerned about it, how do people enter from the less traveled lanes into the roundabout if traffic is constant," wondered Sarasota City Commissioner Susan Chapman.

She said she looked forward to seeing how the first two worked before the other ones subsequently come off the drawing board.

State experts say roundabouts do work, and they'll be safer over time.

"Roundabouts significantly reduce the amount of fatal injuries, mainly due to the elimination of the left hand turn at a signalized intersection," said Senior Project Manager Joe Lauk.

F-DOT hopes to start and complete the first two roundabouts in 2017. Some hope they're finished before the International Rowing Championships come to the area that year.

"We hope FDOT will use some private sector velocity to the process and complete this by Dec 2016," said Warner.