Transportation planners seek solutions to University Parkway congestion

skennedy@bradenton.comDecember 17, 2013 

MANATEE -- County officials Monday OK'd a plan to ask the Florida Department of Transportation to analyze alternatives to solve severe congestion along the University Parkway-Interstate 75 corridor.

Manatee County Commission Chairman Larry Bustle's motion passed unanimously during a meeting of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization at the Holiday Inn, 8009 15th St. E.

"In my opinion, you can't just look at the intersection of University (Parkway) and I-75 to solve the traffic problem," Bustle said after the meeting.

He noted intersecting streets such as Cattlemen Road will be affected by the new Mall at University Town Center opening next year and the many athletic events scheduled in the area before 2017.

Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac said regardless of how FDOT plans to upgrade the interchange at University Parkway and I-75, the area around it will still be congested.

Other improvements are needed in the area as well, she added, not just at the one interchange.

In 2017, Sarasota's Nathan Benderson Park will host the World Rowing Championship, which is expected to attract tens of thousands of athletes, coaches and fans to the area, MPO board members noted.

Bustle said he wants FDOT to take a "comprehensive look" at area traffic to determine affordable projects to cure traffic gridlock.

"I think, certainly, in terms of importance, this one is extremely important, particularly because of what is going to be going on there," Bustle said.

Every day, officials announce some new world-class event that will be taking place in the area, he added.

The study area boundaries range from Lakewood Ranch Boulevard west to Honore Avenue, and from 17th Street north to Linger Lodge Road, he said.

In other action, the MPO unanimously elected Bustle chairman for 2014. Sarasota Mayor Shannon Snyder was elected vice chairwoman.

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

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