Nov. 19–SARASOTA — The city of Sarasota is considering changes to its rules that are designed to limit large trucks from rattling through quiet residential neighborhoods.
The city currently has a series of rules that either limit trucks on some streets or prohibit through-truck traffic entirely, but city and police officials admit the rules are confusing and almost impossible to enforce.
After repeated complaints and suggestions from frustrated homeowners this year, city staff combed over the new rules to craft a new update that they hope will stymie big rigs and box trucks from cutting through neighborhoods while trying to avoid traffic or stop lights.
The new rules essentially flip the old ones — instead of prohibiting trucks on a smattering of residential side streets, the new ordinance would require trucks to use a handful of major roads for most of their driving, until they’re within reasonable reach of their destination, city engineer Alex DavisShaw said.
Any six-wheeled commercial truck caught rumbling through a neighborhood off one of those designated streets would get a citation similar to a parking ticket, she said.
“We hear the same thing from most of the residential streets, that they don’t want to be a thru-truck route,” DavisShaw told the city Planning Board earlier month. “I don’t see why we would treat one residential street differently than another. So we didn’t want to go through and identify each and every residential street … turn it around … so that we’re identifying the through truck route instead.”
The proposed truck routes cover the main arteries throughout the city, such as U.S. 41, U.S. 301 and Tuttle Avenue going north and south and 17th Street, Fruitville Road and Myrtle Road going east and west.
Those routes would replace a myriad of streets that are supposed to be designated off limits but that officers have had difficulty enforcing, some of which seem to have accumulated sort of randomly over the years, DavisShaw said. Some small segments might have the prohibition while nearly identical parallel streets might not, and it’s not always clear why one was chosen at all, she said.
The new rules would simplify that by essentially making every street that’s not a major arterial mostly off limits to routine traffic from six-wheeled commercial vehicles, she said.
They would not mean that trucks will never drive on residential streets, though. Trucks will have to get off the designated routes when they get close to their destinations and obvious examples like moving trucks or equipment for a renovation will always need some access to neighborhoods, DavisShaw said.
School buses and emergency vehicles would be exempt, and a pickup truck hauling a boat back home would not qualify under the rule.
“The biggest thing that I see changing is we do have trucks that’ll run down Osprey (Avenue), the whole length of Osprey, because they don’t want to get on (U.S.) 41 where there are signals and congestion,” she said.
The City Commission will discuss the idea at its meeting Monday night, and city staff will prepare a new ordinance next month after some “fine tuning” of the exact language. The proposal could be set for a public hearing and adoption in late February, DavisShaw suggested.
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