SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - City of Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch said she’s concerned with the congestion created by the three roundabout projects along U.S. 41 in the city.
Because of the major backups, the mayor is hoping to pause the upcoming construction plans for a roundabout at Gulfstream Avenue and U.S. 41. Ahearn-Koch said the area is suffering from construction fatigue and the closure of the left turn lane from Gulfstream Avenue onto U.S. 41 has caused major concerns for drivers.
Just this week, Ahearn-Koch received a letter from the Mayor of Longboat Key, George Spoll, asking for a meeting with the City of Sarasota and the Florida Department of Transportation to talk about the impact the roundabout project at U.S. 41 and Fruitville Road has on the area. Some drivers say it has taken them over an hour to get from St. Armand’s Circle to the Gulfstream Avenue and U.S. 41 light during peak hours.
Spoll said in his letter, "Our resident, and visitor experience affects us all. We are concerned about delays in emergency medical transport as well as the negative reports that affect tourism, economy, property values, and quality of life to not only the barrier islands but also the City of Sarasota."
Mayor Ahearn-Koch said the issues caused at the Gulfstream Avenue and U.S. 41 intersection with the lane closure show just how important the intersection is. She said because of this she thinks they should put a pause on the upcoming construction project for a roundabout at that intersection. The mayor said the city has nearly doubled over the past couple of years and she doesn't believe the current plan would account for the growth they're seeing. She hopes to have a meeting with city officials and FDOT about the other options out there other than the current roundabout plan for that intersection.
"At least let's have the conversation. Let's at least pause what we've got now. Take that design, see if it can be altered or see if we can do something completely new. Or let's see if the information that we have, or that we've gathered recently from our situation, no slip lane, slip lane, and then no slip lane, that we can examine that and come up with something even better," said Ahearn-Koch.
The mayor believes the new plan shouldn’t only address congestion problems, but also the problems of flooding, sea level rise, sunny day flooding, and pedestrian connectivity. She also said with a roundabout project expecting to cost about $25 million, it should be a solution for the next 50 years instead of the immediate future.
A FDOT representative said the lane closure on Gulfstream Avenue should be back open in the next couple of weeks.