SARASOTA –– With attention focused on the reopening of beaches and other amenities in Sarasota County, this bit of good news slipped by during this week’s county commission meeting.
The county has now acquired all of the right of way needed by the state for its planned widening and improvement of the road from U.S. 41 to I-75 next year.
Under the terms of the road transfer agreement signed by the county and the Florida Department of Transportation last year, the county was required to get possession of eight properties identified as necessary for the project by April.
County Administrator Jonathan Lewis told commissioners during Tuesday’s meeting that staff had met that milestone.
Although final settlement documents with the property owners must still be completed, the county can now move forward with the ROW record survey and transfer to FDOT as scheduled.
Those actions, Public Works Director Spenser Anderson indicated in an email must be completed in June. He also wrote that the actual transfer of responsibilities would take place in the fall after FDOT had filed their right of way map.
The road swap came about when the county agreed to take over two state roads on Siesta Key with FDOT in turn taking responsibility for the northern portion of River Road.
As part of the agreement with FDOT, the transportation agency also agreed to undertake the entire construction project beginning next year.
Originally, responsibility for the portion of the project from U.S. 41 to just north of West Villages Parkway would rest with the county and the state doing the rest. However, that changed during negotiations over the final agreement, with the county transferring $24.8 million to the state. That sum represents the estimated construction cost the county would have borne for that project.
The agreement specifies that FDOT will be responsible for any costs over that amount as well as the entire expense for the remainder of the project.