Work begins this week to turn Ringling Boulevard in downtown Sarasota into what’s known as a “complete street.” Once the upgrades are finished, the roadway will be safer for cyclists to use, thanks to protected seven-foot-wide bike lanes along either side of the street between Pineapple and Lime avenues. A physical barrier will separate the bike lanes from vehicular traffic.
Approved by the Sarasota City Commission last year, the Ringling Trail concept plan will also include the addition of landscaping and the adjustment of signal timing to improve traffic flow.
At least one lane of traffic on Ringling Boulevard is expected to be kept open through construction, which is expected to be completed early next year.
It’s all part of the city's first Citywide Transportation Master Plan, which was accepted by the Sarasota city commission in July 2020. The master plan serves as a playbook for how the city invests in its transportation infrastructure.
Similar projects are headed to Boulevard of the Arts in the Rosemary District and 10th Street, in Gillespie Park, both in downtown Sarasota.
Those projects are still in the design phase, however. A community survey about the Boulevard of the Arts and 10th Street projects that was conducted in February received more than 1,000 responses and revealed that respondents wanted to see more multimodal transportation options, like protected bike lanes on 10th Street, and more sidewalk space and room for café seating on Boulevard of the Arts, along with more shade trees on both. Other items, like landscaping, lighting and benches, may also be added, according to city transportation planner Corinne Arriaga, who is leading the Boulevard of the Arts and 10th Street projects.
There is no set timeline for those improvements yet, but "we're planning to bring the draft report to the city commission in the summer for discussion and go from there," Arriaga says.
Other similar projects on the horizon include connecting the Legacy Trail Extension to Bobby Jones via Beneva Road and creating other “complete streets” on portions of 12th Street, Siesta Drive and Shade Avenue.
Conceptual designs for the Boulevard of the Arts and 10th Street projects will be presented in two sessions on Monday, May 23, in the City Hall Annex, and you're invited. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about the designs and share feedback that will help transform these corridors.