New traffic light qualifies for University Parkway at entrance to Edgewater community

dgraham@bradenton.comApril 16, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- A new traffic light on University Parkway at the Edgewater entrance is in line for Manatee County funding in 2014.

The intersection leading into Sarasota County is where Waterview Boulevard on the north crosses to become Business Boulevard on the south.

"The community had contacted me about needing a stop light there at that intersection. I had lived in Edgewater myself for two years so I knew how difficult it was at that intersection," said County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who represents the Lakewood Ranch area. "I contacted public works and they said it was time to put a stop light there. They said they will try sometime in 2014."

The criteria follow state and national guidelines for signal needs, county officials say.

"We conducted a traffic signal warrant. There is a certain set of criteria that has to be met before we can determine if a signal is needed at a certain location," said Manatee County traffic engineering manager Vishal Kakkad. "The warrants were evaluated and they met the criteria for this location.

" However, we still need to find the funding for this project so we still need to program them," Kakkad said.

Based on his preliminary assessment, Kakkad said the light will be "stop and go, like a typical signal anywhere."

"It has grown a lot in that area and you have the commerce park right across the street, and you have Edgewater on the other side," Baugh said. "I was coming down University Parkway and had a car pull out in front of me right in that intersection. This way we're trying to save some injuries or, God forbid, someone getting killed there."

Lakewood Ranch officials also welcome the news.

"I'm glad the warrants say we need it. You can't really just put in a traffic light wherever you want one. It makes sense," said Mike Kennedy, staff engineer for Lakewood Ranch Community Development District 2, serving Edgewater and Country Club. "I drive that intersection every day back and forth to work and it gets pretty busy. I certainly have seen people speeding. I was riding home the other day and there was a sheriff there and somebody flew by and he went after them. I've seen them a couple times."

A traffic light will help curb speeders, most agree.

"It's been a hazard for years," said District 2 superintendent Dick Moran. "Making a left-hand turn to get into Edgewater from University or worse yet, to get out of Edgewater to University, there is no right turn. People aren't expecting to see a road out there."

The light still must be approved by the county commission. Traffic control projects need to be part of the county commission budget planning prior to the beginning of the fiscal year, which starts in October.

"Once money is allocated, funding is identified, and then it's still a long process," Kakkad said. "It has to be designed, structural calculations have to be made, it has to be designed by state and county standards and specs. Once it is designed, there is still a process. It doesn't happen overnight. It has to be permitted and constructed."

Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7027, or tweet @DeeGrahamBH.

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