Proponents of the newly-opened traffic roundabout at Five Points in downtown Sarasota acknowledge a few speed bumps with the flow of cars and say that they expected a learning curve for drivers to adjust to the new traffic pattern. Chief traffic engineer for the city and owner of Five Points Collision and Body Shop, Sonny "Dents" Soran, predicts that the number of fatal accidents should subside in the coming months as drivers become aware of the particular nuances of negotiating their way around the roundabout. At least until season begins, then the numbers should skyrocket again with the influx of snowbirds and tourists coming to town.
"Oh, make no mistake: for those first couple months of snowbird season, it'll be a real bloodbath out there," says Soran. But our primary directive was to reduce congestion on downtown streets and get the cars into the city-owned garages and parking lots as soon as soon as possible--no more endlessly driving around in circles, looking for that elusive free parking space. We think we've accomplished that by making everyone scared to drive downtown at all. They turn off Rt. 41 and pull right into the closest lot they can find. Personally, if it was me, I'd just skip downtown altogether and go across the highway to my brother's place, Marina Jack's."
"We consider the recent traffic deaths in the opening days of the roundabout to be acceptable losses and are confident that we will eventually see a decline in those numbers. Now, remember, that not all of those fatalities are motorists. Five Points Park was notorious for being a hangout for Sarasota's homeless population, so there's a helluva lot of bums in the numbers quoted, as well, which was a benefit we hadn't considered when designing the roundabout, so that's a bonus...."
City Manager, Bob Bartolotta, also expressed guarded optimism for the new roundabout. "We think it's going to become a focal point of the City of Sarasota, much like my friend and longtime political benefactor, Bob Soran's Marina Jack's, is on the bayfront. I think it was well worth the taxpayer's $78 million investment and the 28 downtown businesses that went bankrupt during the 19-months of construction which shut down Sarasota's Main Street to bring this project to fruition."
"I also think that it's now going to be easier to get taxpayer funding to shut down Main Street again in December to build that ice-skating rink here. Just think of the lives of all those motorists it'll save...."
"Now, if we can just get the taxpayers to give us another $13 million to landscape it......"