Manatee commission gives interchange at University Parkway, I-75 top spending priority

skennedy@bradenton.comDecember 3, 2013 

MANATEE -- Concerned that the already-gridlocked area around University Parkway and Interstate 75 will just get worse, the Manatee County Commission Tuesday declared it a top priority for future transportation spending.

Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said she hears constant complaints already from motorists stuck in traffic there.

"The residents are getting more and more enraged by the traffic already there, it's just going to get worse," Baugh told the board.

A new mall is under construction there, along with work on Nathan Benderson Park, the site of the 2017 World Rowing Championship, and it's a route to nearby Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

During a discussion about a draft long-range transportation work plan, Baugh noted there is no money in it for design or construction to improve the intersection at I-75 and University Parkway.

Saying feeder roads in the area also need attention, commissioners urged an areawide, regional approach that would include Sarasota County and help from the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.

A motion to declare the corridor around University Parkway and I-75 as one of Manatee County's top transportation priorities passed 7-0.

The board also directed its staff to come up with a comprehensive solution to address a variety of difficulties there.

Sarasota County commissioners have expressed similar concerns and went so far as to draft a memo to the Florida Department of Transportation expressing their opposition to FDOT's plans for interchange improvements there, offering up some alternatives that take into account the area's transportation grid as a whole.

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

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