Bayfront traffic woes to last 10 months, project managers say

Construction snarled traffic coming from from St. Armands Circle Tuesday.
Construction snarled traffic coming from from St. Armands Circle Tuesday.(FDOT)
Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 12:26 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Project managers of the roundabout being built at U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue said Wednesday the traffic headaches at one of Sarasota’s busiest intersections will last at least another 10 months.

The good news, is that they will be making adjustments to traffic patterns as needed, adding signage and readjusting traffic lights to make detours move more smoothly.

Traffic Wednesday morning flowed more smoothly than the day before, Senior Project Manager Christopher Pecor of CDM Smith noted. “Patience, understanding and experience will get people more comfortable,” with the construction area, he said during a virtual meeting Wednesday, attended by about 150 people.

The project will install a multilane roundabout at the intersection, which connects U.S. 41 to the Ringling Bridge, leading to St. Armands Circle, Lido and Longboat keys.

Traffic on Tuesday, the day that new traffic patterns went into effect, caused significant backups, particularly for motorists going to and from St. Armands Circle and Lido Key. “It was a nightmare,” said one person commenting on ABC7′s Facebook page.

U.S. 41 is effectively closed for southbound traffic. Drivers heading south on U.S. 41 who do not detour before reaching the intersection are forced to drive over the Ringling Bridge, around St. Armands Circle and back over the bridge to continue on U.S. 41.

“That effectively doubled the traffic,” on the bridge Tuesday, Pecor noted.

Engineers are advising motorists to avoid the area all together. Northbound traffic is encouraged to use U.S. 301 to Fruitville Road to get back to U.S. 41. Southbound traffic should use Fruitville to U.S. 301 to U.S. 41.

Engineers say they’re trying to walk a fine line -- to give construction crews the room they need to finish the job as quickly as possible -- while keeping traffic flowing at the same time.

Projects managers promised to keep the public up to date on the project, saying they would hold another virtual meeting in about two weeks.

Besides actually building the roundabout, crews will be installing new infrastructure underground, including new water lines and drainage pipes. The road will also be raised about 18 inches to help alleviate the flooding issues that routinely plague the stretch of road during heavy rains.

According to the Florida DOT website, construction is not scheduled to be completed until Fall 2022, at a cost of $8.6 million.

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