After morning celebration, roadway opens to help expand Lakewood Ranch into Sarasota County.
With a snip Wednesday morning by Schroeder-Manatee Ranch CEO Rex Jensen, Lakewood Ranch's expansion into Sarasota County hit a new milestone.
The Lorraine Road extension through to Fruitville Road was officially open, or actually would be by 2 p.m. Wednesday when the chairs and tent used for the celebration would be cleared.
"This is one of the many happy days here," Jensen told the guests who were invited to the ceremony. "This is not just a road. It has wide bike lanes. We raised the road right here to put a big tube under it. We're going to have a school site over there. Why should kids have to walk across a four-lane road if they can go under it?
"This is a road intended to complement a lifestyle, and be a good fit with the community. This is a unique piece of infrastructure."
Besides becoming another north-south corridor for motorists traveling through Manatee and Sarasota counties, it will provide access to the new Waterside at Lakewood Ranch development, which is being built on 5,490 acres and will include 5,144 homes in 12 neighborhoods.
Sarasota County Administrator Tom Harmer said the Lorraine Road extension, which is 3.54 miles, is a great example of the public and private sectors working together for the overall good of the community.
"We have learned how important interconnectivity is to public safety," Harmer said. "While we are wondering what will (Hurricane) Irma do, we know anything we can do to improve access benefits all of us in this region."
Paul Caragiulo, a Sarasota County commissioner, said the Lorraine Road extension was another example of SMR's great vision. "This was just a fantastic effort," Caragiulo said. "This is a wonderful opportunity to alleviate some of the distribution of traffic along Interstate 75."
Jensen made sure to compliment Woodruff and Sons, which did the road work.
"Woodruff and Sons is like Godzilla with a bulldozer," he said.
Don Woodruff, the president of Woodruff and Sons, complimented SMR, saying, "They're great people to work with."