Sarasota to add roundabouts for traffic control

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- The concept of a roundabout is not new in Sarasota. At any point in the day, you can see cars speed through the multi-lane roundabout at Tuttle Avenue and Siesta Drive, or at any of the other roundabouts sprinkled around town.

Linda Raynor is the owner of Headquarters Hair Design, a salon located next to Tuttle roundabout, and she says it has been nothing but a problem the past 20 years. "Speeding, not getting in the right lane, not yielding to the different lanes when people are getting into the center lane, and also going the wrong way," she says, ticking off a list of problems she’s observed.

But the Sarasota city engineer says that the proposed roundabouts will have only yield signs giving right of way to those drivers traveling around the circle, unlike the older roundabout along Tuttle, which has a stop sign.

The plans call for more than half a dozen multi-lane roundabouts at intersections along 10th Street, 14th Street, Fruitville Road, Gulfstream Boulevard, Main Street, Orange Avenue, and Ringling Boulevard. The idea is to connect downtown to the bayfront and keep traffic moving.

"It allows vehicles to continue on through, instead of stopping and starting and having higher speeds between intersections,” says Sarasota city engineer Alex Davis-Shaw. “It's a slower but more continual travel through U.S. 41, so it makes it safer and also allows for better pedestrian connectivity."

Not everyone is sold on the idea, including Osprey resident Shirley Laureno. "I think it will cause more problems especially, you know, with the older people,” she says. “They're going to be really confused."

Other drivers say that new roundabouts -- like the ones along Honore Avenue -- help move traffic along.

"At first it was a little dangerous because people didn't know the yield,” says Sarasota resident Terri Drenth, “but, you know, I do travel that road a lot and it's really not too bad."

The city also plans to add additional pedestrian features to the roundabouts, including pedestrian-activated crossing signals.