EAST COUNTY — A new stretch of roadway running parallel to Interstate 75 is proving to be a tantalizing force, as East County residents eagerly await the opening of a new north-south connector between University Parkway and Fruitville Road.
Planted medians, paved roadways and an ongoing roadblock beg the question: When will the North Cattlemen Road extension open?
Not today, but soon.
Sarasota County officials will open the full roadway extension — one that will connect Fruitville Road and University Parkway without disruption — during a special ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. May 24.
The ceremony will be held on the roadway’s western bridge to the regatta island. Individuals must take the Cattlemen Road entrance from University Parkway to get there.
The new roadway extends North Cattlemen Road about 2.8 miles, from Richardson to Desoto roads. It includes four 12-foot-wide travel lanes, 4-foot-wide bicycle lanes, a 10-foot sidewalk along the western side of the roadway, two 30-foot span bridges and other road-related structures, such as lighting, stormwater ponds and medians.
It also includes the realignment of a land bridge along Nathan Benderson Park to provide better access to the park, while allowing for the park’s major lake to be lengthened to accommodate a 2,000-meter rowing course — a change that will allow it to host international rowing competitions.
Four members of the Swedish-based International Federation of Rowing Associations, or FISA, visited the park site in April; it is one of two venues being considered to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships.
“This (opening) will provide another major north-south roadway in Sarasota, but it also will provide full access to (Nathan Benderson) Park and (the future Mall at University Town Center),” Susan Walsh, Sarasota County Communications, said. “It’s a biggie.”
The portion of Cattlemen Road, running from Richardson Road and Brown Lane, already has opened, but no vehicular or pedestrian access is available north of Brown Lane.
Brown Lane, just north of the San Palermo neighborhood, has been the northernmost point for Cattlemen Road, from Fruitville Road, for years.
The North Cattlemen Road extension also will provide drivers with a much-needed north-south alternative to I-75 from University Parkway to Fruitville Road and relieve traffic on Honore Avenue, Sarasota County officials said.
Sarasota and Manatee County commissioners joined officials from Benderson Development for a ceremonial groundbreaking on the road construction project April 30, 2011 — just before the Florida Scholastic Rowing Association Championship Regatta was held at Nathan Benderson Park.
Total project cost for the roadway extension is almost $21 million.
Contact Pam Eubanks at email@example.com.