Friday, August 2, 2013

August 16th Lee MPO Peer Exchange--Sarasota's Honore Blvd. Project

 In an earlier blog post we told you about this exciting Sarasota Honore Blvd. project--instead of widening the road to be a 6-lane highway as originally planned, they changed it to be a multi-modal two-lane corridor with six roundabouts!  The Sarasota team will be making a presentation on August 16th to the Lee MPO Board as part of its series of Peer Exchanges. We hope that many elected officials, staff, committee members, and interested organizations and citizens will take advantage of this opportunity to learn from Sarasota as the Lee MPO prepares to develop its 2040 LRTP.


This presentation will be the second in a series of "Peer Exchanges" by the Lee MPO Board to learn from other communities' experiences as the MPO begins the process of developing its 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP).  This informative series of Peer to Peer Exchanges not only benefit the MPO Board, but also provide an excellent opportunity for staff and citizens throughout Lee County to be a part of the conversation.

The series was kicked off at the June MPO Board meeting with a presentation by the Executive Director the Nashville MPO, about the award-winning and visionary transportation plan developed by the Nashville area MPO in 2010, followed by a lively discussion with MPO Board members.  Click here for highlights from the Nashville discussion. 

August 16th:  Sarasota.  The Lee MPO Board's next meeting is on Friday, August 16th (9 a.m. in the Cape Coral City Council Chambers), and at that meeting, there will be a presentation by a Sarasota team about their award-winning Honore Blvd. project. Making the Sarasota presentation will be Jim Harriott, County Engineer for Sarasota County along with Frank Domingo (who also lives in the neighborhood), and Stantec (the consultant). They will be doing about a 20-25 minute presentation and then will open it up for discussion with the Board members.  Then the public will have an opportunity to comment.  (Here's agenda for 8/16 meeting--this is item #12.)

Background on Honore Blvd. Project
Honore Ave from Fruitville south to Bee Ridge, Sarasota County, FL
 Instead of widening Honore Blvd. to be a 6-lane highway as originally planned, Sarasota County changed it to be a multi-modal two-lane corridor with six roundabouts!  It is now successfully moving the traffic while saving millions in capital costs and will save even more in maintenance cost over the life of the road.  At the same time, the road is much safer for all users; and by using new low impact design for stormwater, it is much better for the environment.  This is truly a win-win-win....and something that Lee County needs to pursue. Click here for background on the project, including an excellent video.

Please watch this video about Honore Blvd in Sarasota

If all had gone as planned, Honore Avenue would be a bustling six-lane highway running south from Manatee County to Englewood. Instead, the 2.5 mile section just south of busy Fruitville Road is a two-lane road bordered by bioswales and punctuated with roundabouts that accommodate nearly as much traffic as a four-lane highway. Not only do the bioswales collect a significant percentage of pollution, neighbors love the design – and it cost $2.3 million less to build than the county had budgeted for a more traditional alternative....

”It’s important to accommodate automobiles but there needs to be a balance,” says Jon Thaxton, who served on the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners for 12 years before being term-limited out. “There is a balance here: there’s room for automobiles but there’s also a comfortable space for pedestrians and bicyclists – and the environment.”

.... From a traffic perspective, the road with roundabouts keeps cars moving because they don’t need to stop for red lights along the 2.5-mile section. Capacity is about 85% of a traditional four-lane but the number of serious accidents has dropped dramatically because there are no intersections.

“Roadways are like hourglasses,” Thaxton explains. “It doesn’t matter how much capacity you have at the top and the bottom, the volume is determined by the size of the connection in the middle.” Roundabouts slow traffic down but don’t require that cars stop at traffic lights or for left-hand turns. They also nearly eliminate the potential for t-bone crashes that can cause serious injuries. “Someone would almost have to want to get hurt to have a serious accident on this road,” he said. 

Stantec’s senior traffic engineer, Francisco Domingo, also lives in an adjacent neighborhood so the project was particularly near to his heart. He walks the road several times a week, checking for tire marks on the curbs of the roundabouts that might indicate that a driver took the curves too quickly. “People caught on to how to use them even more quickly than we expected,” he said. And with bioswales built between the road and the sidewalk, pedestrians are protected from careless drivers. “I never thought I’d see it happen, but people come from all over to use this sidewalk to teach their youngsters how to ride a bike,” Domingo said....

And the consultant that did the project, Stantec, was just named Transportation Consultant of the Year by Florida Public Works Association:

"The 2.7 mile Honore Avenue extension delivered an array of economic and community benefits, and sets a new standard for limiting the environmental impact of road construction in the region. Instead of a planned four-lane highway, the two-lane divided road features six roundabouts, bicycle lanes, LED streetlights, Florida-friendly landscaping, and bio-swales and rain gardens to treat stormwater runoff. Through the use of imaginative land and median configuration and boardwalks, the design team saved more than 75% of the existing high value trees and more than 16 acres of forested, publicly owned lands that are also home to two bald eagles nests."

Next in Lee MPO Peer Exchange Series:
September 20th: Broward County.  At the Sept. 20th Lee MPO Board meeting, a team from the Broward County MPO (Broward Mayor Kristin Jacobs and Broward MPO Director Greg Stuart) will do a presentation about their innovative LRTP, which includes a policy of no more roadway capacity expansion, with a shift to transit and bike/ped.

Report by Darla Letourneau

No comments:

Post a Comment

BikeWalkLee is not responsible for the validity of any comment posted at this site and has the right to remove any comment at any time.