EAST COUNTY — In an effort to save taxpayers money and increase efficiency, Schroeder-Manatee Ranch President and CEO Rex Jensen submitted a new proposal for the intersection improvements at Interstate 75 and University Parkway Tuesday to the Florida Department of Transportation.
In a letter to top FDOT officials, Jensen suggests using a roundabout design for the interchange.
“I’ve got a better, cheaper design, and it’s a lot more environmentally friendly,” Jensen said. “FDOT’s double diverging diamond design works well because there are no conflicting traffic movements.
However, it is very costly and probably confusing to drivers. By redesigning the interchange as a roundabout, we get the same result with less expense and less confusion.”
Overall speeds along University Parkway would have to be reduced, because lanes would be reduced from six to four entering and exiting the interchange. Interchange ramps would be reduced from two lanes to one.
Because traffic already is bad in that area, drivers would be accustomed — and may even appreciate — the lower speeds, which could result in fewer accidents in the area, Jensen said.
Jensen said he supported the adoption of resolutions March 25 by Manatee and Sarasota counties to expedite the construction of the double diverging diamond, but he came up with his alternative design while driving through Lakewood Ranch later that day.
“The inspiration for this design came to me from our successful partial roundabout at Market Street and Town Center Parkway,” Jensen said. “I thought, ‘If a partial roundabout can be so effective, then a full roundabout would work even better.’”
Plus, he said, the design would cost about $20 million, compared with the $60 million needed for the double diverging diamond plan. The savings would provide funding to build roundabouts at other intersections.
“The roundabout design has worked well in Sarasota County, so why not here?” Jensen said. “It seems like a winning idea to me.”
Officials from Benderson Development, which owns commercial properties along University Parkway, west of Interstate 75, said extending the roundabout concept westward to major intersections along University Parkway would continue Sarasota County’s efforts to make roadways aesthetically pleasing and create a united front for Sarasota and Manatee counties, who share the roadway.
Jensen said his idea, if FDOT approves it, may cause a two-year delay in interchange construction, but he believes it would be worthwhile, given the savings and other reasons.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
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