East County residents wanted answers and they wanted them last night.
Lakewood Ranch and nearby areas residents threw a range of hot-button-topic questions at District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, Oct. 1, at the quarterly Lakewood Ranch Town Hall meeting. Baugh focused her two hours in front of the more than 100-member audience on local traffic as a result of The Mall at University Town Center.
"This isn't going to be church Sunday traffic," East County resident Yvette Sherman said. "This (traffic) could be a potential disaster, between people getting upset on the road because of traffic and all the people using University Parkway."
Baugh, along with Manatee County Sherriff's Office Captain Lorenzo Waiters, told residents that additional Florida Highway Patrol and Manatee and Sarasota counties' law enforcement officials are gearing up for the extra traffic by having additional manpower on University Parkway, Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and other traffic-heavy roadways.
Baugh cited an estimated 100,000 people will visit the new shopping strip — each day.
Although the police agencies have been planning for the extra traffic — and potential accidents and traffic jams they are expecting — Waiters won't have plan specifics until the mall opens Oct. 16. The community will have to be patient and trust law enforcement to do its job, Waiters said.
"(The mall) is new, it's going to take a while to thin out the crowd," Waiters said. "But, we've been planning for this since constructed started on the mall last year."
For the extended story, pick up a copy of the Oct. 9 issue of The East County Observer.
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].