SARASOTA, Fla. -- After six months of barricades, roadblocks, and construction, the intersection of Ringling Blvd. and Pineapple Ave. in downtown Sarasota is open for business.
It's the gateway to the shops that fill the Burns Square Business District, and those businesses have been preparing for a new roundabout.
"It's a breath of fresh air," says Nancy Krohngold, owner and namesake of Nancy's Bar-B-Q, which sits at the intersection of Ringling and Pineapple.
But her business and others around Burns Square had to yield to construction as the roundabout was built there. Customers often became frustrated by closed roads and detours. The stores stayed open, but took a hit. Nancy's was among them, though many customers would have to trudge through the construction site to get to her front door.
"A lot of the frustration our customers would share with us," Krohngold says. "They'd go 'Nancy, when can I get to your store again?' I'd say 'You can get there now. It's just a detour,' and they'd reply 'No, no, that's too hard.'"
To make matters worse, the project lasted through the whole tourist season.
The project to construct two roundabouts on Ringling was scheduled initially to avoid tourist season. However, the city says the project faced delays because of federal funding.
"Sometimes, progress hurts, and the way this was scheduled, it ended up hurting a lot," Krohngold says.
But what helped a lot was regular customers who kept coming back.
"They could have put up the Great Wall of China, and we would have found a way to still get here," says Eric Sobol, who says he eats at Nancy's almost every day. "I still think we still had enough traffic through that obviously everybody survived it, so it all worked out well for everybody."
Along with roundabouts, the project also added permanent pedestrian crossings to better link downtown and Burns Square. Krohngold and others say the roundabout actually improves visibility now, and they're happy to see it.