SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) — Sarasota County commissioners recently advanced plans to bring a roundabout to the intersection of Midnight Pass Road and Beach Road on Siesta Key. The intersection sits just a few hundred feet away from the public beach parking lot.
County officials say the roundabout will improve safety in the area and help improve the flow of traffic.
During a presentation to the commission last week, Sarasota County Public Works Director Spencer Anderson talked about the benefits of roundabouts.
“They reduce crashes and more specifically, they reduce crashes that result in fatalities or significant injury,” said Anderson.
Design plans for the new roundabout included dedicated crosswalks at each leg of the traffic circle, flashing beacons at pedestrian crosswalks, 10-feet wide sidewalks around the perimeter of the roundabout, bike ramps on an off of the roundabout, and added street lighting.
Some residents on the barrier island, however, aren’t convinced the county’s plans will improve safety. Some fear it will make matters worse for people on bikes and on foot.
“We have millions of pedestrians coming through that location per year. Putting in a roundabout, I believe will just exacerbate the issues that we have,” said island business owner Michael Holderness.
Other residents told 8 On Your Side they feel the $2.9 million going toward the roundabout could be better spent.
“I don’t think it is going to make that much of a difference. I think the accident rate is very low here already, so I would like to just keep it the way it is,” said Siesta Key resident David S.
District 2 commissioner Mark Smith has lived on the island for about 30 years and also pointed out the intersection isn’t a common one for traffic collisions in his memory.
“It is an extremely tricky intersection for bicyclist and pedestrians. I am hoping this will be the solution that will make it less tricky,” Smith said.
Island resident Tom Kump tells us he is optimistic about the addition of the roundabout. “All in all, I think it will be a positive thing for the key. [It’ll] Help the traffic move and it will be safer here at the intersection,” said Kump.
County officials say construction isn’t expected to close the intersection at any point. Work is expected to take around seven months and is slated to begin next spring.