Florida officials reject Interstate 75 sign touting Manatee-Sarasota rowing park

skennedy@bradenton.comOctober 28, 2013 

UNIVERSITY PARK -- Readying University Parkway for huge crowds that will eventually be attending athletic events nearby was again a subject of discussion Monday at a transportation planning meeting.

The Sarasota-/Manatee Metropolitan Transportation Organization board had asked if a sign could be mounted along Interstate 75 mentioning that the 2017 World Rowing Championship would be nearby in order to help tourists find a new rowing center.

The championship, expected to attract tens of thousands of people, is scheduled to take place at Sarasota's Nathan Benderson Park, near the intersection of the interstate and University Parkway.

However, because the proposed sign does not meet state administrative guidelines, it cannot be put up on the interstate, said Roxann Lake, an official with the Florida Department of Transportation.

Such a sign must "provide some benefit to the motorists that are using the roadway," she told the MPO board.

The code would allow such a sign three days or so before and after the event, she said.

Manatee County Commissioner Larry Bustle noted there will be a number of national and international events leading up to the 2017 championship, adding, "We owe it to ourselves to capitalize on what we have there."

The board passed a motion to ask FDOT to reconsider its administrative code and to consider other areas of the U.S. that allow signs along the interstate to promote economic development.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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