Sarasota News Leader

02/14/2014

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Metropolitan Planning Organization's Citizens Advisory Committee. Bridges aren't constructed to hold up cars standing still, he pointed out. They're meant to get cars from one side to the other. What causes those rage-inducing backups? Warner said they largely stem from a poorly designed intersection at U.S. 41 and Fruitville Road. Many leaving the islands take a left at Gulfstream and then a right at Fruitville, to travel to east Sarasota or Interstate 75. But the red light at Fruitville and U.S. 41 blocks that flow any time the car at the front of the right lane is traveling north instead of east. The solution: a roundabout. But "roundabouts work best in series," Warner said, suggesting that if the city is really serious about easing traffic congestion, it needs to construct round- abouts all up and down U.S. 41. That means roundabouts should ideally be placed at 41 and Ringling Boulevard, 41 and Main Street, 41 and Gulfstream, 41 and Fruitville, 41 and 10th Street, 41 and 14th Street, and even on the road out to the islands — at Gulfstream and Sunset Drive — and at the entrance to Bird Key. And roundabouts closer to the city center would help as well. The city wants to construct them at Ringling and Orange Avenue and at Orange and Main Street, and perhaps even at the site of the five-way intersection just northwest of Selby Public Library. The upside goes way beyond just easing traf- fic. Bicycle/Pedestrian Advocates Director Mike Lasché talked about how roundabouts increase safety for walkers and cyclists alike. (According to Warner, no pedestrian has ever been killed in an American roundabout.) And increasing walkability has a direct impact on raising real estate values. But making walk- ability a city priority is no easy feat, Lasché pointed out. He praised studies such as the Bayfront Connectivity Plan, but said the city has taken only "little steps" to implement them. "The fault rests with us," he argued. "We bring in outside planners, and then we let the plan go to the wolves." He said that groups with "no interest in walkability" chip away at well-intentioned designs. The city is proposing a roundabout at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue, where long traffic backups are typical during season. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader February 14, 2014 Page 63

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