Better lighting needed along University Parkway, Manatee resident says

skennedy@bradenton.comOctober 29, 2013 

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The issue of the poor lighting along University Parkway has been brought up before the MPO board. File Photo-GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald

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UNIVERSITY PARK -- Ronnie Snyder Jr. of Palm Aire has lived off University Parkway for 21 years, and hopes eventually the counties on both sides of the busy roadway will join forces to install brighter lighting.

Snyder complained to transportation officials Monday about his vision of tens of thousands of tourists forced to navigate the area in the dark once a new mall and international rowing center are completed where the parkway meets Interstate 75.

"It's horrible with traffic right now," said Snyder, 48, a postal employee who is on the roads late at night because he works the midnight shift. "At night, there's been no application of funds for street lights."

From near the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport to the mall areas near I-75, a distance of about 6 miles, only the intersections are lit on the east-west thoroughfare, he said.

Because it's a county road, the responsibility for lighting lies with two adjoining counties, Manatee and Sarasota, officials told him.

"Nobody wants to do it," Snyder told the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Transportation Organization.

Officials said special "safety funds" might be a possibility if both counties request better lighting be installed. But such a funding request would have to compete against other projects, they said.

Planners need to look at the area as a whole, and anticipate future needs, said Manatee County Commissioner Larry Bustle.

"It's not just University Parkway," he said. "It covers places we know we'll have problems."

He cited a new shopping center at University Parkway and I-75, called The Mall at University Town Center, along with the new rowing facility adjacent to the mall.

In December, the MPO will be requesting proposals for long-range transportion plans, which would be a "great opportunity" to discuss the lighting situation, said MPO Executive Director Mike Howe.

"Let's look at this area and come up with some projects," he said.

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

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