While many snowbirds have already begun their journey back north, traffic conditions continue to be challenging in Sarasota. With all of the new residences being built in the downtown area and the rest of the county, the number of year-round cars is increasing. To manage this growing population, there are quite a few traffic improvements in the works. While it’s good to know things are improving, what does it mean for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians while they are being implemented? Here we look at a few of the road construction projects and how they will affect the Sarasota community.
As the number of cars on our roads increases, intuitively we think of widening streets, adding new thoroughfares, and adjusting traffic patterns. However, this takes time and can exacerbate an already bad traffic situation during construction. Not only does it increase congestion, but it also affects sight lines for both drivers and pedestrians. Cyclists and pedestrians also have to weave through makeshift lanes that are often too close to both the traffic and construction, which can lead to more accidents.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will be widening US 41 between 10th Street and 14th Street, adding bike lanes, turn lanes, and a roundabout at each intersection. The project includes adding a six foot sidewalk on the east side and a ten foot sidewalk on the west side, raised pedestrian islands with a pedestrian activated crosswalk, LED street lights, and landscaping with the possibility of public art. Crews will also be using this period of construction to replace the City of Sarasota utility and underground drainage structures so the completion of the entire project isn’t expected until Spring of 2020.
This construction is already underway, affecting both daytime and nighttime hours. Temporary traffic signals are assisting with the traffic shifts for both the northbound and southbound lanes, but expect single lane closures and reduced speed limits. Since no through traffic is permitted on 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th Streets, many local residents have already started using Cocoanut, Central, Orange, Osprey Avenues, and US 301 instead. For pedestrians in the area, paths have been reconfigured around the work zone, so please stay safe by using the designated sidewalks and crosswalks.
A welcome site for many pedestrians are bridges that cross over top of the busy roads and intersections to allow for safe crossing away from vehicles. While construction usually doesn’t affect drivers directly, there can be circumstances that arise. Take for instance the current construction of a pedestrian bridge along the Legacy Trail over Laurel Road. While this isn’t having much effect on automobile traffic beyond construction vehicles entering and leaving the construction zone, it has brought changes for bicyclists using the Legacy Trail. Please carefully follow all detour signs provided until completion, which is expected for fall 2018.
One of the most common construction situations drivers and pedestrians encounter is the resurfacing of roadways. While usually not a long-term inconvenience, it happens much more often than other types of road construction. Traffic patterns, exit ramps and pedestrian crossings can all be altered while roads are resurfaced, so being aware of these changes and take your time while passing through them to ensure the safety of both construction workers and yourself.
In Manatee County, drivers on I-75 will see construction from Moccasin Wallow Road (Exit 229) to the Hillsborough County line through Summer 2018 and at the SR 64/Manatee Avenue Interchange (Exit 220) through late 2019. Expect nighttime/overnight lane closures near Exit 229 as crews resurface the roadway, make drainage improvements, install guardrails, add new signage and pavement markings. Also, the I-75 northbound exit (Exit 220A) is CLOSED until late Summer 2018 while it is being reconstructed. Motorists must use Exit 220B to reach eastbound or westbound SR 64/Manatee Avenue.
We hope this explains how much needed road construction can affect both drivers and pedestrians alike, and alerts you to some of the road construction you can expect to see in the area. Whether you slow down or go around, we hope it helps keep you both safe and sane.