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City of Sarasota seeks input for ‘complete street’ projects

Written by on Thursday, November 9, 2023

Walkers and bikers will like this: Two streets near downtown get a makeover.

By Johannes Werner

Original Air Date: Nov. 8, 2023

Host: The City of Sarasota has acknowledged that the car is just one of many ways to get around, and that walking, jogging, bicycling, rollerskating, scootering, skateboarding, and riding the bus is increasingly popular. That’s where “complete streets” come in. The latest plans include converting two high-profile east-west streets in the Rosemary District near downtown. Our news team talked to City transportation planner Corinne Arriaga.

‘Complete Street’ project for 10th St. and Blvd. of the Arts in Sarasota.

Johannes Werner: The city has asked residents about how they use, and how they would like to use, 10th Street and Boulevard of the Arts. Transportation planner Corinne Arriaga explains what the outcome was. She begins with 10th Street, which is as of now a rather inhospitable, four-lane dividing line between the Rosemary District and the Cocoanut-Central neighborhood.

Arriaga: This is actually a continuation of the project. So when we first started this endeavor in 2022, we actually had a survey where over 1,000 people .. shared with us how they use the street, and what they wanted to see. And so from that survey, we heard that people .. really found it as a gateway to the Bay Park, and that they really wanted to have safe, convenient facilities for multimodal travel. So when taking that into consideration, the layout of 10th is going to be going from a four-lane divided road to a two-lane divided road and protected bicycle lanes with a wider sidewalk.

JW: Meanwhile, people want to turn Boulevard of the Arts into something like the Main Street of the Rosemary District.

Arriaga: So that’s also another part of what a complete street is. It’s not .. a rubber stamp. It’s really identifying how people use and want to utilize that street and really determining what those treatments are based off of what the community feedback was. So what we heard for Boulevard of the Arts was people really viewed that corridor as the Main Street of the Rosemary District. So they really wanted to prioritize pedestrian activity, as well as creating enough space for businesses to have sidewalk cafes and to have flexible space for events. The Rosemary District does a lot of events, so they just wanted to have that space available to them. So Boulevard of the Arts is going to remain a two-way street, undivided. And we’re going to maximize the pedestrian space with some, I think, increasing it to somewhere near 11 feet of sidewalk or shared use path. And then we will have arrows on the travel lanes to indicate that it’s a shared lane for vehicles and bicyclists.

Before and after: Segment of 10th St.

JW: Now, everybody has a chance to fine-tune these plans, with visual aspects to enhance the appearance of both streets. The city set up a web survey that will be open for your input until Nov. 19.

Arriaga:  So the survey really is to identify the community’s preferences, [with] themes and design elements that can be incorporated into the final product. When we thought about the theme, there’s so much rich history in the city of Sarasota that we really wanted the community to tell us what they wanted to see on the street. People told us 10th Street was the gateway to the Bay. So if they wanted to incorporate some of those coastal elements, we wanted to know that. Or if they wanted to kind of defer back to the fruit, the fruit history of the city of Sarasota. … It’s sort of like the foundational .. threads of the city of Sarasota tapestry – all our fruit streets, we’re really proud of that. So just hearing how the community wants to see and feel these corridors is really important to us, and what gets put into this part of the project, which really gets into the details of the hardscaping and what kind of features and amenities are going to get placed.

You will find the survey at https://bit.ly/10thSt-BotA-VPS. It takes 5-10 minutes to complete it.

Should we expect similar levels of citizen involvement in other city projects? Arriaga is hedging her bets.

Arriaga:  Well, I can say high-profile projects are probably going to have as much, if not more, public involvement. And we do see public involvement for the projects as they come up. The level of details really is dependent on the community. So for these projects specifically, we heard from that first survey that this idea of placemaking was really, really important to this community for these corridors. So that’s kind of where this extra level of engagement came from. These preferences of what they wanted to see, what themes, those kind of materials. But, I don’t know if every corridor is going to have that level of involvement unless our community tells us that’s the kind of level of involvement they want to see.

JW: This has been Johannes Werner, for WSLR News.


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