LAKEWOOD RANCH — Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch is working to build consensus among Sarasota County officials on plans for a four-lane Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Lorraine Road south to Fruitville Road, as well as for a location for an overpass across Interstate 75.
SMR Vice President of Planning Richard Bedford said he expects the Sarasota County Commission to approve plans by the end of June, although timing remains at the discretion of the commission.
“We need this to happen,” Bedford said. “Everyone wants this to happen. We can’t wait that long (to get started).”
Design/engineering work for the roadway extensions is approximately 20% complete. SMR is waiting to hear from the county whether it will put additional funds toward widening Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Lorraine from two to four lanes from south of SMR’s property boundary. SMR’s development approvals only require it to build two lanes.
“We need this to happen, everyone wants this to happen. We can’t wait that long (to get started).” – Richard Bedford, SMR Vice President of Planning
As part of approvals for SMR’s Villages of Lakewood Ranch South — a roughly 5,000-home, 5,500-acre project immediately south and east of the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park, it must pay Sarasota County $7.5 million toward infrastructure improvements. About $2.5 million will go toward the design of the overpass, making it “shovel ready” and a contender for federal dollars for construction. SMR is advocating for Sarasota to use the other $5 million toward widening the two roads for future needs.
“All the roads are being constructed in advance of development,” Bedford said. “There’s going to be four lanes of roadway before a house is there.”
Bedford says construction of the roadways is contingent on approvals from Sarasota County, but SMR hopes to start construction of the roads in the first quarter of 2016 and have the roads completed in the first quarter of 2017, before completion of the diverging diamond interchange at I-75 and University Parkway.