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Speed Limit Won't Be Lowered on US 41 Before Project

A proposed makeover of Tamiami Trail in Sarasota to include roundabouts is designed to slow drivers down, and one city commissioner wanted the speed limit lowered in advance of the project.

If politicians want people to drive slower, a Florida Department of Transportation district secretary said design a slower road, don't just post a lower speed limit.

The advice came from Billy Hattawawy, FDOT's district secretary, about Tamiami Trail. He spoke during the City Commission's discussion Monday about planned roundabouts on Tamiami Trail.

The state is studying possibilities for improvements to a half-mile stretch from 10th to 14th streets, including roundabouts to 10th and 14th streets.

That's in addition to roundabouts on Tamiami planned at:

City Commissioner Shannon Snyder asked if the city could get the speed limits posted lower before the roundabouts are constructed to train drivers to slow down.

"I would rather start training folks to be a little bit more conservative in their driving rather than waiting for this thing," Snyder said.

That's not going to happen, Hattaway said.

"Unless there are physical changes made to the roadway that will actually help cause the speed change, we can't just go out and reduce speeds on the roads," Hattaway said.

"People will drive at the speed to which they're comfortable, especially on a four lane roadway," he said. "I wish those things were different, but those are the facts."

Between 10th and 14th streets, Chris Piazza, FODT project development engineer for District 1, said simulations show people won't be able to accelerate beyond 35 mph before they reach the next roundabout, where they'll have to reduce speed again.

"What we looked at is reduce speeds artificially through the roundabouts to reduce speeds on the mainline," he said.

The challenge with Tamiami Trail is that it's a commuter road.

"The longer people have to drive, the less like people are going to drive slow," he said.

Another possibility to slow down drivers is changing land use to encourage buildings closer to the road and on-street parking, he added.

But a roundabout does help with traffic safety, he said.

"The thing that changes the game for the roundabout is that there's no opportunity to run yellow," he said.

Vice Mayor Terry Turner said he's concerned with the cost of the project as the city is spending $8 million on acquiring private right-of-way and would like to see an alternative that doesn't require the right-of-way purchases for a the multi-use recreational trail.

"I am really uncomfortable with this thing going very far forward the way all the current options are configured," he said.

City Engineer Alex Davis Shaw said the city commission would need to give staff direction for a change in those recommendations.

Piazza said a public hearing in May is planned so the project can move to the design phase.

anthony February 08, 2012 at 05:55 PM
do a by pass rounabouts are a pain in the ass, they are like u turns to get to your destination.
Brigitte February 09, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Rarely am I able to even go the speed limit on Tamiami due to the heavy traffic, which is a natural "speed reducer". Roundabouts will only cause more congestion.
ScottRAB February 09, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Roundabouts don't cause congestion. Congestion is caused by more people wanting to drive on a street than the street is designed for and friction along the path or bottlenecks. Intersections are bottlenecks. Popular places have lots of friction. Businesses like to be in popular places. Modern roundabouts have less total daily delay than comparble signals and they really shine during the off-peak hours when most drivers don't have to stop at all, just slow to 15 or 20 mph. 15 mph is a lot faster than zero (at a stop light).
Stan February 09, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Bad idea! The recent roundabouts on honore are a good example of what not to do. The circles are designed down to limit speed to 10 mph instead of 15 or 20 as in the UK. There are three of them together which kills the idea of proceeding along a given route. Two is doable, but three makes it something to be avoided. People can't drive these, especially from up north. Loaded roads in the peak months are inevitable. This would make it much, much worse. It would be like installing 8 smaller gates over 4 lights and expecting a different outcome. You would do much better eliminating the light at golden gate point, limiting festivals at St. Armands, and directing fruitville directly into john ringling bridge blvd. The idea of spending money on roads is to make them quicker to transit, limit the speed to make them safer if you find an exisitng road to be dangerous. Do not spend money to build slow roads. Stan - Sarasota
Mulldoon February 09, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Why do you want to slow traffic down? Are there a lot of accidents? Animal road kills? I suggest determining what the problem is first then solve the problem. The roadway or shoulders could also be painted ina way that would slow vehicles down at a much lower cost.
Concerned Engineer April 18, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Dear Stan: I drive through the roundabouts on Honore everyday during peak traffic hours, and I have never had a problem with them, nor have seen anyone else having a problem with them. As for the proposed roundabouts on Tamiami Trail, I don't understand why people think it's better to have traffic lights, where you are forced to stop and idle for several minutes, than to have a roundabout - only yielding when someone is already in the roundabout. The studies have already been done showing that roundabouts, even on heavily traveled road like US41, have less traffic congestion, less idling (i.e. less air pollution), less cost for the City to maintain, and on average get you to your destination faster that traffic signals. But you think we should limit the festivals on St. Armands? Boo, Stan.
Concerned Engineer April 18, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Dear Stan: I drive through the roundabouts on Honore everyday during peak traffic hours, and I have never had a problem with them, nor have seen anyone else having a problem with them. As for the proposed roundabouts on Tamiami Trail, I don't understand why people think it's better to have traffic lights, where you are forced to stop and idle for several minutes, than to have a roundabout - only yielding when someone is already in the roundabout. The studies have already been done showing that roundabouts, even on heavily traveled road like US41, have less traffic congestion, less idling (i.e. less air pollution), less cost for the City to maintain, and on average get you to your destination faster that traffic signals. But you think we should limit the festivals on St. Armands? Boo, Stan.
Vizsla April 19, 2012 at 02:15 PM
You drive through the roundabouts on Honore everyday and haven't seen anyone have a problem with them? You must have your eyes closed. The problem with roundabouts isn't the roundabout itself, it's the people who use them. The triangular sign is a yield not a stop sign. The traffic gurus need to educate people about how to properly use a roundabout.

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