SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - There are many places around town with orange cones and construction signs, but the ones on Washington (U.S. 301) between 10th Street and Fruitville Road have just been taken down.
The Florida Department of Transportation has officially completed the turn lane improvements and new median installments on this stretch.
“You can’t look at this, at just Fruitville Road at U.S. 301, you have to jump up 30-50,000 feet up in the air and look down and see all the traffic around it," said Joe Strauss, traffic systems timing specialist for the Regional Traffic Management Center. "And these are the things that we do.”
The Fruitville and 301 intersection is one of more than 500 signals the Regional Traffic Management Center (RTMC) team oversees in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. They step in to control the signals when construction or an emergency is causing heavy congestion.
“At the location of U.S. 301 and Fruitville Road, southbound was the high demand approach," explained Fabio Capillo, manager of the RTMC on the Suncoast. "The green [light] time that was allocated was not enough, therefore, traffic back up was building throughout the day.”
To fix this, the RTMC team increased the green light for drivers going south through Fruitville Road by 15 to 20 percent, which for drivers, this means 10 to 12 seconds more to drive through the intersection.
“It was almost a minute, normally, for that green time,” said Strauss.
But if they adjust the Fruitville intersection, they have to consider the ones to the north and south too.
Officials said they watched as many drivers insisted on making the left turn on Fruitville Road, despite FDOT’s lane closure, so as a result, the RTMC team often changed the light at Main Street to red when Fruitville was green.
“So that the southbound traffic could move and make that left turn," said Strauss.
For pedestrians trying to cross, it’s not hard to see how all the congestion would get frustrating.
“Drivers don’t really have a whole lot of etiquette,” one told ABC7 when the construction started.
But as of Wednesday, FDOT has completed the repairs to the left turning lanes at Fruitville Road and 10th Street and there’s a new concrete median to stop drivers from making illegal turns.
Still, this $871,000 project isn’t quite finished. FDOT said it will also complete enhancements to the sidewalk and improve the drainage in this area. That is expected to be complete by the end of summer.