By John Morton
Several road-related projects planned for Siesta Key continue to shake out.
Spencer Anderson, Sarasota County’s director of public works, updated the Siesta Key Association on Sept. 9 with a status report.
• The vacant lot at 6647 S. Midnight Pass Rd. will finally know its role as a leasing contract with the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce looks eminent, Anderson said. The lot is adjacent to the parking-poor Crescent Plaza and will provide spaces for 43 cars. It would be limited to employee parking for a variety of businesses that are chamber members.
The lot, which was once home to a sheriff’s substation and later eyed as a possible turnaround spot for the Siesta Key Breeze, is 1.83 acres in size. In June, the Sarasota County Board of Commissioners agreed to spend about $157,000 to pave the area, which began in September.
The parking spots will include two handicap-accessible spots and one for the county’s OnDemand transportation service.
Siesta Key Association members voiced their relief that no public parking would be allowed at the site, noting that homeowners across the street on the Gulf of Mexico feared that visitors would be cutting through their lawns to get to the beach. The nearest public beach access is north of the area, across from Captain Curt’s.
• The county is close to starting the process of establishing the 22 angled parking slots along Ocean Boulevard (four near the Old Salty Dog on the south side and 18 near Whispering Sands condos on the north side) Anderson said, with the south side of the road being the starting point. The slots will include one handicap-accessible spot and an electric bike charging station.
• The roundabout earmarked for the intersection of Midnight Pass Road and Beach Road is wrapping up its design process, featuring a dedicated lane for beachfront drivers planning to turn eastbound where Midnight Pass Road veers inland.
The roundabout, which is being paid for by the FDOT, will likely take one year to build, Anderson said.
• A FEMA grant is helping with a couple of drainage projects, Anderson said, including the area where water accumulates at Ocean Boulevard and Higel Avenue.
Beginning in the spring, a system will be put in place that sends the water into the island’s canal system, causing Siesta Key Association members to voice concern about dirty runoff water entering the canals they’ve been working to protect. Anderson noted that a filtration system will be part of the project, lessening any negative impacts.
Similar measures in the spring will be used to move standing water at the Ocean Boulevard curve near Givens Street.
Meanwhile, stormwater drainage work has been scheduled for Beach Road at Columbus Boulevard where standing water often complicates beach access.
• At long last, the creation of several safety measures is underway at the dangerous intersection at Higel Avenue and Siesta Drive. Among the additions: signage, striping, flashing arrows, illuminated pavement markers, a guard rail, and the delineation of where bicyclists are supposed to travel.
The work, which according to Anderson will be done at night, is expected to last between 30 and 60 days. FDOT is paying for the project.