St. Armands is a small island shared by approximately 260 residences, an outdoor, pedestrian shopping district, a Lutheran church, and a park that hosts various shows and festivals. But, it is also the only direct way to reach Lido and Longboat Keys by vehicle from downtown. This means that the residents who are out for a walk, the visitors who are shopping and dining and crossing over to the park, and the people attending a church service all have to share the island's roadways with the vehicular traffic from all the residents, visitors, contractors and service providers going to and from Lido and Longboat, which offer beaches, parks, marinas, hotels and clubs as attractions.
Many consider the roadways through St. Armands to already be broken because the Circle becomes practically impassible certain hours of the day in-season, especially on a good beach day. There is also the drawbridge to Longboat that has to be raised for sail boats periodically and which can lead to traffic back-ups all the way through the Circle. These are inconveniences at best and a public safety issue at worst: pedestrians must exercise extreme caution and emergency vehicles may have difficulty getting through.
On Tuesday, January 10, 2023, the City experienced what can happen when lanes are closed for people leaving the barrier islands. It wasn't a remarkable day, and it wasn't a particularly busy time of year, but traffic backed up from downtown to past the Longboat Publix when roundabout construction required the closure of all but one eastbound lane. There was no forewarning, and apparently people missed flights and medical appointments, and the phones at City Hall and the police department were ringing off the hook with people calling in to complain. Observer Article: Surprise roundabout lane closure outrages Sarasota, Longboat