Urban Makeover

Changes Are Headed to Two Downtown Sarasota Streets

Both 10th Street and Boulevard of the Arts are slated to be transformed to allow for safer walking and biking.

By Kim Doleatto November 14, 2023

Tenth Street in Gillespie Park will become a two-lane street.

Tenth Street in Gillespie Park will become a two-lane street.

Image: Kim Doleatto

As downtown Sarasota expands with more demolition, more buildings and more roundabouts, the streets themselves are also changing.

In Gillespie Park and the Rosemary District, the City of Sarasota is poised to transform 10th Street and Boulevard of the Arts (BoTA) into complete streets to allow safer ways to walk and cycle.

What’s a complete street, exactly? It’s akin to Ringling Boulevard’s bike-friendly transformation also in downtown Sarasota, which now features protected bike lanes that connect to the Legacy Trail.

But it’s “not just a rubber stamp that’s applied to other streets. Each street considers how it’s used by the public," says Corinne Arriaga, senior transportation planner for the City of Sarasota. "These are two different corridors with different treatments, so you won't find bicycle lanes on BoTA. People felt that 10th Street was the gateway to the Bay Park and wanted safe ways to move about—so there we’ll see wider sidewalks and bike lanes.”

Through Sunday, Nov. 19, the public is invited to complete a short online survey to help guide the style and choose what design elements work best for the streets. Those items include lighting; shade-producing options, like trees vs. sail shades; bench styles, like wood slat vs. iron; paver materials, like concrete vs. brick; and bicycle lane barrier options, like planter boxes vs. flexible delineators. In addition to the online survey, the city sent mailers to residents and businesses within 300 feet of both projects. Arriaga and staff also canvassed area businesses and pedestrians to spread the word and gather feedback.

The changes will be installed on 10th Street from U.S. 41 to Orange Avenue, and on BoTA from Sarasota Bay to Orange Avenue.

The changes will occur on 10th Street from US 41 to Orange Avenue, and Boulevard of the Arts from Sarasota Bay to Orange Avenue. 

The 10th Street transformation will take the street down to two lanes with 8-foot sidewalks, landscaping, stormwater treatments and protected bicycle lanes. A roundabout is also planned for the intersection of North Orange Avenue and 10th Street.

“On BoTA, people wanted to see more pedestrian activity there with sidewalk cafes and flexible spaces for events,” Arriaga says. 

The intersection of Boulevard of the Arts and Central Avenue in the Rosemary District.

Image: Google Maps

BoTA, west of U.S. 41, will be a two-lane divided street, with 12-foot travel lanes with shared vehicle and bike lanes, a 10-foot landscaped median and 10-foot sidewalks separated by a 9-foot landscaped border. The intersection at U.S. 41 will be raised with four crosswalks. The raised intersection functions as a speed table.

From U.S. 41 to North Orange Avenue, power lines will be moved underground. BoTA will remain a two-lane divided street, with 11-foot travel lanes with shared vehicle and bike lanes, 11-foot sidewalks separated by an 8-foot landscaped border and on-street parking. There are also public art and street bench considerations being weighed.

In May last year, the city unveiled preliminary concepts for the streets. “We had a previous survey that asked how the streets were used. Now we're getting into details of the look,” Arriaga says.

The complete street projects for 10th Street and BoTA are among the top 10 priorities that were put forth as part of Sarasota in Motion, the citywide Transportation Master Plan that was approved in 2020. The plan serves as a guide for multimodal transportation options and for creating a more bikeable and walkable community.

To help fund the estimated $15 million in funding the complete streets will require, the city will apply for $12 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant, which opens next year. “We will receive word on that in the summer of 2024,” Arriaga says. The city is matching the remaining $3 million. "Without the grant, we’ll go to the commission with how to move forward," she explains.

Due to many moving parts, a completion date is still TBD, but a public City of Sarasota meeting is expected in the spring to unveil the outcomes of the survey.

The survey closes at 5 p.m. on Nov. 19; you can access it here. Paper copies are available at Selby and Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota libraries.

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