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@example.com.
Currently 4 Responses
- I agree with Mr. Miller wholeheartedly! How could such an important thing as expanding roadways surrounding the new mall be overlooked when approving the development of such a huge draw to our community? This mall is going to attract hundreds of people from all directions. While I am happy to see the growth and all of the jobs that the mall will bring to the area, I am extremely frustrated because, unlike Mr. Miller, I live east of I-75, off of University Parkway in LWR and already the roads are a nightmare to travel and not just because it's "season." I can't avoid the cluster F because I reside in the neighborhood and don't want to move. Each night after work when I travel north on I-75 from Fruitville Rd., it's like a parking lot, bumper-to-bumper getting onto the interstate and for a distance after. You would think there was an accident on the interstate. I cannot even fathom what it's going to be like when the mall opens! This has been a topic of conversation amongst myself, friends and co-workers almost every day. People are upset that this wasn't planned out at all. Now residents who live in the community will have to pay the price. Shameful!
- To Mr. Baugh and all of the other officials and representatives of the developer...you're right, DON"T come back without a plan and funding.
It is utterly ridiculous that this wasn't addressed and dealt with nine years ago when the mall was first planned! How could any county administrator approve this project without additional roadway? I think Benderson Development representatives realize now, that if the interchange and roads around the mall aren't changed, many, many people, like myself, will avoid the inevitable traffic chaos around the mall. (Which is fine, because I really like to only shop in locally owned stores and restaurants.)
- it's great action of offcier. I think we should spread out this so taht all have the good view in ecenomy. top grinders
- NOW you decide to tackle this? The time should have been BEFORE this mall started. Wow. Planning at its best Sarasota County.
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