MANATEE -- Alarmed at the high number of pedestrian fatalities and traffic accidents, the Florida Department of Transportation is planning to build 12 pedestrian "refuge islands" along part of the center lane of U.S. 41.
The $352,000 project calls for concrete islands in the center, two-way left turn lane of the heavily-congested road, where pedestrians could pause while they cross lanes of traffic going north and south, said Amy Blair, an FDOT engineer.
The 2.5-mile project will be done between Cortez Road and 69th Avenue West. Construction is slated to begin in the fall of 2014, Blair said Monday.
U.S. 41, also known as Tamiami Trail, is a six-lane, undivided urban roadway, with an 11-foot bi-directional center left turn lane.
The refuge islands are a "safety-funded" project, due to the high number of accidents recorded along the road, Blair told the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.
From 2007-2011, total crashes numbered 1,116, with 924 injuries and 13 fatalities, from Cortez Road to 63rd Avenue West, according to FDOT spokesman Debbie Tower.
FDOT chose locations for the islands based on sites with high pedestrian traffic and accidents involving pedestrians; local business locations; and transit stops, said Blair.
A public meeting on the plan is planned for late May, she said.
Two other related projects are also slated in the same area.
One calls for replacing traffic and pedestrian signals and adding pedestrian ramps at five intersections along U.S. Highway 41: At 53rd Avenue West; 57th Avenue West; Bayshore Gardens Parkway; 60th Avenue West; and 69th Avenue West, Blair said.
Officials have also appropriated $6.1 million to add sidewalks and street lights from 53rd Avenue West to 63rd Avenue West.
Pedestrian islands will be near the following businesses along U.S. Hwy. 41:
n Alex Karras Used Cars/Quality Inn
n Bayshore Baptist Church
n Gettel Toyota
n Tire Kingdom
n Iberia Bank
n Coastal Auto Sales
n Joyland Dance Hall/Bradenton Honda
n Cash American/Georgia Carpet World
n Wayside Glen Community/Tough of Class Restaurant
n Lincoln Arms Mobile Home/Hertz
n Eagle Village Fraternal Order/McDonald's
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.