Infrastructure projects for the future

Sarasota and Longboat Key proceeding with major construction projects

Intersection at corner of 14th Street and US41
14th Street roundabout - A temporary traffic light was added for traffic while a roundabout is constructed.

If you’ve been away from Sarasota for a few months you may be amazed at the new construction downtown. If you live here year round, your patience is needed so the necessary road and infrastructure is put in place to accommodate the BLVD and multi-year development of the old Quay property. The new Ritz-Carlton Grande is the first to start on that piece of land, with progress appearing before our eyes.

The latest boon in downtown development continues after the completion of the Westin – Vue Sarasota and Embassy Suites, and others in various stages of construction. All these extra hotel rooms and residences will significantly place a burden on the infrastructure. City planners are actively upgrading to accommodate the volume in traffic and services required. The progress is transforming Sarasota and most see it as a good thing.

The first road construction project at the corner of Ringling Boulevard at US41 had a turn lane installed and a new Hawk pedestrian crossing. It might be a little unsettling for the first time to know that you can legally drive through a flashing red light with no pedestrians in the crosswalk. This project completed mostly during nighttime hours had only a few inconvenienced.

It is an entire different project from Centennial Park to the Sarasota Bay Club where the major road expansion is underway. Drainage and utility services were restructured with the preliminary phase complete. The tie-in to the main services will take place within the next couple of weeks as reported by FDOT.

Intersection at corner of 10th Street and US41
10th Street roundabout - Traffic pattern changes and street widening is expected to be completed next year.

The US41 road expansion continues, with crews working mostly after 6 PM and before 6 AM. Sidewalks have been closed in areas and the main boat trailer entrance at 10th Street has been diverted to an area opposite of the Publix into Centennial Park. Even the northbound drivers can enter the park with access to the boat ramps. Drivers are urged to proceed with caution to account for the disruption of pedestrian and traffic patterns.

Roundabouts are considered a nuisance by some, or a blessing by others. The transportation experts have determined they will be required to keep a meaningful traffic flow when the construction projects are completed. The roundabouts at the two locations of 10th Street and 14th Street will coincide with the widening of US41 to six lanes, 10-foot sidewalks on the west and 6-foot sidewalks on the east between these two intersections. Parking for the Preserve is now across the street on the north side of 14th Street.

Phase I, or nine acres of the 53-acre parcel of Quay land labeled as The Bay, is planned to be completed in two years after its start, road construction in the area is expected to be completed next spring. The southern edge of The Bay will have its boundary at Boulevard of the Arts and extend through the existing Centennial Park to the new Sunset Boardwalk, a circular elevated structure that protrudes out into Sarasota Bay. The Bayside Lawn at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall forms the northern edge of Phase I. Discussion continues on the future of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Also in the early plans is a design showing another roundabout at Boulevard of the Arts but it’s not listed with FDOT and still appears on the project maps.

Center statues for the roundabouts have been submitted by local artists. Two designs will be selected by the City Commission through a vetting process, down to the final six, with residents weighing in through social media. Landscaping is planned for the roundabouts and the Boulevard of the Arts intersection.

Fiber optic underground service
No overhead utility lines - That is the goal for Longboat Key as workers bury fiber-optic lines on the Gulf of Mexico Drive southern end in separate projects involving power, utilities and street lights

Longboat Key has started its infrastructure project to bury utility lines. The goal is to prevent outages from storms and install street lights along Gulf Of Mexico Drive. The new lights will also service cell phone users with built-in transmission relays. The $48 million project is expected to be completed 2022. Funds were approved by voters in two separate referendums. The budget is to be kept separate between the first vote for utilities along Gulf of Mexico Drive and funds for the neighborhoods.

That completion date may depend on weather, and final discussions on the height of the street lights. Research has heights of 32 to 46 feet along Gulf of Mexico Drive and 26 to 41 feet along side streets. The project involves replacing Longboat Key’s 281 poles. Some concern has also been raised to ensure that 5G technology is implemented for cell service. The newest technology will bring in faster data speeds and improve cell phone reception. The plan is to marry these projects to one that involves a fiber-optic backbone on Longboat Key currently underway. Longboat Key has developed a website to provide updates at LBKUtilityUndergrounding.com. You can also sign-up for updates through your email address.

No more overhead lines for cable, power and phone service. The projects have started to prevent outages, safety and aesthetically pleasing. These improvements can help sell homes. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

 

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