By SARA KENNEDY
MANATEE -- Construction on a $72 million "diverging diamond" interchange at Interstate 75 and University Parkway could start by August 2015, a Florida Department of Transportation official said Monday.
Billy Hattaway, FDOT's District One secretary, said that the estimated cost of the project had gone up -- from $60 million to $72 million -- but he reiterated that the state's transportation chief still remains committed to fully funding it and on an accelerated construction schedule.
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Hattaway told the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization that the interchange reconstruction is 50-60 percent designed, and he hoped that its "diverging diamond" design would be complete by May.
Construction, he said, could start as soon as August 2015 -- 10 months after the Mall at University Town Center is scheduled to open near the interchange
MPO members said the timing of the interchange's reconstruction was important because a World Rowing Championship is slated to take place in the fall of 2017 nearby at Nathan Benderson Park.