FDOT's renewed vow to fast-track key Manatee interchange project should quiet anxieties

May 24, 2014 

The Florida Department of Transportation reassured the region that the agency is forging ahead with plans for a key road project vital to easing congestion.

New fears that the $60 million interchange at University Parkway and Interstate 75 would not be fast-tracked as previously promised proved unfounded.

"All people should be concerned about is this interchange will be built," Robin Stublen, FDOT's public information officer for this region, told Herald reporter Kathryn Moschella. "We are moving full speed ahead on designs and it will get done."

That should settle the concerns brought up at last week's inter-district workshop in Lakewood Ranch.

FDOT first listed the interchange as a top priority in March, advancing the timeline for construction by years. Even though the Legislature failed to allocate the money, the agency is shifting funds over to University Parkway.

Already a bottleneck, the pace of growth through the area is hastening. The giant Mall at University Town Center is expected to open in October, and major projects in Lakewood Ranch are moving forward.

Nathan Benderson Park's rowing competition center continues to attract more major events, the latest being the 2015 Youth National Championships. Announced last week, the three-day event for elite high school rowers expects to draw more than 1,500 rowers and some 5,000 spectators.

As is well known, the park's biggest coup to date is capturing the 2017 World Rowing Championships.

Gridlock during such a global event will send the wrong image about the region.

Little comes from government with an ironclad guarantee, but we'll embrace FDOT's renewed pledge.

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