Expect traffic in and out of Sarasota’s barrier islands—St. Armands, Lido and Longboat—to ease up a bit later this year. By that time, work would have been completed on the new Coon Key Multi-Use Recreational Trail (MURT).
This project was started in early February, and it is expected to be completed in about 10 months. The property owners who stand to benefit most from the MURT are those in the condominium complex Sarasota Harbour East and West. The new trail is being built on the south side of John Ringling Boulevard just across this condo development. The residents of Birdy Key just east of Coon Key also enjoy proximity to the MURT.
Designed as a 10-foot-wide path, this trail will not only provide pedestrians and cyclists a safer way from downtown Sarasota to the barrier islands. Ultimately, the MURT will also help reduce the volume of vehicles along this route, according to Sarasota’s City Manager Tom Barwin.
The city is implementing the MURT project in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). A total of $1.89 million is being spent for it, including a grant of $830,000 from the FDOT.
Citywide bike infrastructure
Other recent initiatives perfectly jibe with the MURT project, In January, the city launched at the St. Armands Circle parking garage a pilot bike rental program. This self-service facility is available through a phone app. It offers options on a two-hour bike rental for $10, five hours’ use for $15, and 48 hours for $25. This scheme is likewise set for adoption in the downtown area and other parts of Sarasota.
City officials are also planning to install more bicycle racks around St. Armands Circle where currently there is only one. Nine locations in the area have already identified to allow bike parking for more than 70 bikes. Besides the racks, adding bike lane markings are being considered on some streets near the Circle to make motorists aware that they are sharing the road with cyclists.
More Solutions Coming
Notably, the town of Longboat Key has been actively working with the city of Sarasota and FDOT in addressing the traffic problem to and from the barrier islands. One measure being considered is putting up crossing guards on crosswalks at St. Armands Circle for better traffic flow and enhancing pedestrian safety. These installations will be located on John Ringling Boulevard leading onward the Circle and on North Boulevard of the Presidents heading toward Longboat Key.
A water taxi service connecting St. Armands Circle and Ken Thompson Park on the mainland is another suggested solution to help address the local traffic problem, especially during peak tourist season.
These measures are among the 70 or so short- and long-term solutions identified in a barrier island traffic study by the FDOT and the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization. More proposals from the study are set to be revealed soon, and our Judy Kepecz-Hays team shall keep all our clients informed on further developments. So contact us if you’re planning to buy or sell a Sarasota residence. The improvement of mobility in Sarasota and her islands surely is one of the weighty factors now worth watching in our market.