By Rachel Brown Hackney, SarasotaNewsLeader.com
The redevelopment of four parcels between Beach Road and Calle Miramar as the site of an eight-story, 170-room hotel would result in an extra 132 vehicle trips during the afternoon peak drive time, a consultant for the project team said in a March 18 document.
Included among updated materials for the proposed hotel, which were submitted to Sarasota County staff in early May, the traffic analysis does say its estimate is a conservative one.
For the purposes of the report, the Kimley-Horn consulting firm in Tampa pointed out that it used 2022 as the year the hotel would be completed.
The firm’s conclusion, the report says, is that “the adjacent roadway segments are anticipated to have adequate capacity for the project.”
Moreover, the report notes, “As the site does not propose residential units, an emergency hurricane evacuation analysis was not performed.”
A separate document that Sarasota attorney William Merrill, of the Icard Merrill firm, submitted to county Planning Division staff asserts “Hotels are commercial uses, not residential uses, and will have no residents to evacuate when a storm event threatens. In fact, hotels are customarily one of the first businesses to close in the event of an imminent storm event and as a matter of course their guests are notified as far in advance as possible. With modern forecasting technology (which has improved significantly since 2010), the hotel and its guests, visitors and employees will be well aware of storm threats far in advance of any impacts or evacuation orders. Visitors will naturally cancel or change their travel plans and not head into or toward the storm.”
The proposed hotel would be located in the northeast quadrant of Ocean Boulevard and Beach Road, the Kimley-Horn traffic analysis explains. The site allows up to six multi-family residential units and up to 1,921 square feet of office space, the analysis notes. The property also is being utilized for up to 60 public parking spaces during the peak tourist season, the document adds.
A three-level parking garage planned below the five floors of the hotel would have up to 223 spaces, 36 of which would be open to the public, the analysis says. “The access for the hotel is proposed through two driveways (one full access and one ingress only) along Calle Miramar,” it adds.
A conservative estimate assumes that 50% of the 36 public parking spaces in the garage would result in driveway trips during the afternoon peak drive time, the report continues. “Therefore,” it says, “to provide a conservative analysis it was assumed 18 vehicles are exiting the garage during the p.m. peak hour.”
The trip generation analysis for the hotel itself included the ancillary uses in the plans: a restaurant, bar, meeting rooms and retail space, the report adds. Kimley-Horn staff also took into consideration trips involving people wishing to use the “sunset viewing pool deck proposed within the hotel.” The firm estimated that only 30 such visitors would be allowed to join guests of the hotel for that activity, the report notes.
“The 30 trips is a conservative estimate as guests may arrive or depart prior to the p.m. peak-hour,” the report points out. “The sunset viewing deck is anticipated to generate [fewer] trips outside of peak season,” the report also says.
Other facets of the traffic study
Additionally, the report explains that Kimley-Horn analyzed Beach Road and Ocean Boulevard for expected traffic impacts of the hotel. Both two-lane roads, it notes, “are anticipated to operate with an acceptable level of service.”
“Level of service” refers to how a driver perceives the flow of traffic on a road.
The hotel would be expected to add 26 vehicles to Beach Road between Calle De La Siesta and Ocean Boulevard during the peak drive time, the report points out, for a total traffic volume of 529.
For Ocean Boulevard between Beach Road and Higel Avenue, the report says, the hotel is expected to generate an extra 79 trips during peak drive time, for a total traffic volume of 534.
Further, Kimley-Horn staff took into account turning movement traffic counts at five intersections during the period between 4 and 6 p.m. on Feb. 3, the report notes. However, because of concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the number of people driving on Siesta Key on that date, the report adds, the data Kimley-Horn obtained “[were] compared to a previous count” available from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), which maintains an Historical Annual Average Daily Traffic Report, the report explains.
Therefore, the report continues, the counts Kimley-Horn collected at the intersections were increased by 10%, “to provide a conservative analysis.”
Further, the report notes, the vehicle counts at those intersections were “adjusted to reflect peak [tourist] season conditions.”
Kimley-Horn staff utilized 2019 peak season data from Sarasota County in that process, as well, the report says.
The five intersections were as follows:
• Beach Road and Ocean Boulevard.
• Calle Miramar and Ocean Boulevard.
• Ingress driveway on Calle Miramar.
• Ingress and egress driveway on Calle Miramar.
• Beach Road and Calle De La Siesta.
All the intersections would be expected to operate with a volume-to-capacity ratio less than 1, the report notes.
The Federal Highway Administration explains that the volume-to-capacity ratio is “also referred to as degree of saturation, [representing] the sufficiency of an intersection to accommodate the vehicular demand. A v/c ratio less than 0.85 generally indicates that adequate capacity is available and vehicles are not expected to experience significant queues and delays.
None of the Siesta intersections that Kimley-Horn studied for its report has a traffic signal.