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Date of Issue: July 30, 2008

Circle sees improvements

The Florida Department of Transportation spends a rainy Thursday working at the traffic circle at Gulf Drive and Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

The Florida Department of Transportation is improving the roundabout in Bradenton Beach.

City and state officials expect the improvements to be completed before Aug. 4, when the DOT will begin work to extend a turn lane on Gulf Drive at the Cortez Road intersection.

The left-turn lane on the southbound side of Gulf Drive is expected to be lengthened about 750 feet to ease traffic flow.

When the Anna Maria Island Bridge closes for 45 days beginning Sept. 29, vehicles will be detoured to travel to and from the Island on Cortez Road. That will put a lot of vehicles at Cortez Road and Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach, an area already heavily traveled.

The roundabout work on the state road is not part of the preparations for the bridge closure but rather a DOT maintenance project, said Bradenton Beach Mayor Michael Pierce.

“We want to improve the ADA access there,” Pierce said, referring to Americans with Disabilities Act. “Also, a lot of the [bricks] in the path have moved and we need to make it so it is not a stumbling place for people.”

City public works director Tom Woodard said brick pavers will be repaired at the intersection, entrances widened and enhanced with ramps to better accommodate wheelchairs and new features added to help people with sight-impairments better navigate the roundabout.

“They’re putting in truncated domes,” Woodard said. “Those are used to help people know where they are when they are leaving or getting on a sidewalk.”

Cindy Clemmons-Adente of the DOT said the project would cost about $4,700.

Bradenton Beach’s roundabout was created in 1992, apparently the first in the state.

A study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, Ryerson Polytechnic University and the University of Maine found a 5-to-1 decline in the number of vehicle crashes after the construction of the Bradenton Beach roundabout.

In general, the researchers found that crashes at intersections dropped by 38 percent after the installation of roundabouts and injury-related crashes dropped by 76 percent.