Wednesday, June 6, 2018

FDOT Diamond could "destroy" Fruitville Initiative

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has released a Notice to the public of a Public Hearing on June 21:
The Florida Department of Transportation District One will hold a public hearing for the l-75 / Fruitville Road Interchange project. The meeting will be held on Thursday, June 21, 2018 at the Selby Public Library located at 1331 1st Street, Sarasota, Florida from 5 p.m. in the Jack J. Geldbardt Auditorium.
FDOT's project calls for a Diverging Diamond at I-75 and Fruitville Road (see detailed excerpt below). 

The plan as currently configured would destroy the basic premise of the Fruitville Initiative, say  those close to that project. The Fruitville Initiative came about in 2010 as an innovative compromise between landowners, the community, and planners. It was adopted by the County in 2014 to create a walkable, mixed-use area on a tradition grid of streets.

One planner/engineer familiar with the Fruitville Initiative sees major negative impact from the FDOT proposal:
this is probably the one single action that will can destroy the Fruitville Initiative in that it undermines the Interconnectivity Plan intent to disperse traffic and promote walkability.  It will force/funnel almost all traffic onto Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and through its single mega signalized intersection at Fruitville Road. 

FDOT image of scope of Diverging Diamond at Fruitville Rd and I-75

Excerpt from FDOT Notice:
. . . this project will now propose to reconstruct the existing interchange with a Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI). This project proposes to widen about 2 miles of I-75, from Palmer Boulevard to north of Fruitville Road, to an eight-lane highway with four through lanes per direction and proposes to replace the existing bridges over Fruitville Road and proposes to widen 1.6 miles of Fruitville Road from Honore Avenue to east of Coburn Road to provide for a six-lane to eight-lane highway with three to four through lanes per direction as well as bike lanes. Minor right-of-way acquisition is required at the southwest corner of Fruitville Road at Cattlemen Road. The existing median opening at the eastern entrance to the Southgate Shopping Plaza proposes to be closed, as well as the existing median opening at Old Coburn Road.
Along with the Notice, FDOT released a tentative project schedule that calls for planning and acquisition in 2019-2020. Construction is as of yet unfunded and not scheduled.

The June 21 hearing at Selby Library will feature a presentation followed by public comments, which can be spoken or submitted in writing:
The hearing begins with an open house at 5 pm and follows with a formal presentation and public comment period at 6 pm. People attending the hearing can review project displays and speak one-on-one with project team members. Written statements or exhibits submitted at the hearing, emailed, or mailed and postmarked by Tuesday, July 3, 2018, will become part of the official hearing transcript. 
Additional information may be obtained by contacting the FDOT Project Manager, Ryan Weeks at 863-519-2837, by e-mail to

Naples-based Stock Development, which recently purchased a tract of the Fruitville Initiative, is said to be opposed to the FDOT plan.

Rendering of one segment of the Fruitville Initiative
 showing mixed uses on a walkable street grid

A 2014 letter from the district secretary of FDOT explicitly states that the Dept. of Transportation is committed to working with the Fruitville Initiative's plan:
FDOT, in partnership with FHWA, is currently developing design plans for the ultimate l-75 interchange configuration at Fruitville Road. Our goal is to design an interchange within the existing LA line that is not only safe and operationally efficient but contextual to the planned Fruitville multi-way boulevard and surrounding compact, walkable, mixed-use development. We welcome the opportunity to continue working with the County and stakeholders in achieving that objective.

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