Manatee and Sarasota County officials will travel to Tallahassee Thursday morning to meet with developers and the Florida Department of Transportation to discuss traffic at University Parkway and Interstate 75.
Vanessa Baugh, Manatee County District 5 commissioner, announced at a meeting Wednesday night at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall that she will be one of several local officials to attend the special meeting, which she said would include the presence of representatives from local developers, such as Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, and FDOT.
Baugh also said Ed Hunzeker, Manatee County administrator, is currently in Washington D.C. lobbying federal officials to improve traffic at University Parkway and Interstate 75.
The meeting represents a hard-charge to improve traffic conditions before the Mall at University Town Center opens and the 2017 World Rowing Championships begins.
FDOT has previously said improvements to I-75 and University Parkway will not start until after Sarasota County hosts the 2017 World Rowing Championships, at Nathan Benderson Park, just south of University Parkway off Cattlemen Road.
FDOT is working on longer-range plans for improvements to the intersection, including a proposal for a diverging-diamond-style interchange.
But FDOT does not have any money earmarked for the diverging-diamond interchange until after 2021.
Baugh says that timeline isn’t good enough.
“I don’t care what we have to do,” Baugh said. “We need a road. I hope to be able to come back to you (from Tallahassee) and say that we have a plan.”
Baugh will leave from a private jet to Tallahassee at 5:45 a.m. Thursday.
Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].