Sarasota County and state officials have worked together to help River Road.

VENICE – Besides the cancellation of many of the annual Pioneer Day festivities, Hurricane Dorian had another impact on the region as well.

The storm caused the postponement of a planned discussion by the Sarasota County commissioners later this month of the formal road swap agreement to transfer North River Road to the state.

In an email, Spencer Anderson, the county’s Public Works director, explained the county had expected to receive the final draft agreement last week, but the expectation that Dorian would slam into Florida delayed that submission.

Now, Anderson wrote, commissioners will likely see the document sometime in October.

As to the specific terms of the agreement, Anderson also wrote that county staff met with representatives of the Florida Department of Transportation and “resolved most if not all outstanding matters in the drafts.”

Before they see the final agreement however, commissioners will be asked on Oct. 8 to approve on item necessary to move the project to improve the road along. That item is a resolution of necessity if the county has to use an order of taking process, or eminent domain, to acquire the remaining right of way needed for the eventual widening of the road.

“With respect to property acquisitions, we have made offers on all outstanding acquisitions and are in the process of negotiating with individual owners,” Anderson wrote.

The draft agreement does require the county to acquire all of the necessary right of way.

In return for taking over North River Road from U.S. 41 to Interstate 75, the county will accept responsibility for two state roads on Siesta Key except for drawbridges, which will remain FDOT’s responsibility.

The current timeline for the improvement of the road calls for completion of a project development and environment assessment of the road area by April 2020 with the state then putting the project out for bid in the next month, May 2020.

If that timeline holds, the widening and improvement project would start in 2021.

Action on the road swap agreement was expected to occur last year, but a decision by FDOT to move its funding allocation for its portion of the road from West Villages Parkway to the interstate from 2024 to 2021 caused a delay in drafting the agreement.

The year 2021 also factored in that decision as the county planned to begin its portion of the improvement project from U.S. 41 to West Villages Parkway that year. Now, the agreement calls for the state to undertake the entire project with the county also giving FDOT the $24 million it expected to spend on that portion of the road.


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