MANATEE -- Sarasota County transit officials plan to temporarily re-route buses around the most congested area near the new Mall at University Town Center, slated to open Oct. 16, an official said Monday.
SCAT buses on routes 15 and 30 will be detoured away from Cattlemen Road via other nearby streets so as to reduce congestion, Sarah Blanchard, senior planner for Sarasota County Area Transit, said during a meeting of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Blanchard added, "That detour could either be just for the mall opening, but we're also looking at maybe for the whole shopping season."
Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac posed a question: "What kind of bus transportation will be available at the new mall?"
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Service on SCAT Route 15 has been operating several years, while Route 30 started in July, Blanchard explained.
Sarasota and Manatee transit officials are coordinating bus stops, she said.
"Both of those routes operate hourly, but they operate from the airport in a staggered interval, so effectively 30-minute service along University Parkway between the airport (Sarasota-Bradenton International) and the mall," Blanchard said.
SCAT and the mall's developer, Benderson Development Co., are in the process of building a new transfer station on the southeast corner of North Cattlemen Road and DeSoto Road, but it probably won't be done for a few months, she said.
"So we're operating out of a temporary location, and we are working on a detour, so that we aren't going to cause more traffic congestion on North Cattlemen while the mall opens, but also so our buses won't be stuck in traffic," Blanchard said.
The new mall is at the intersection of I-75 and University Parkway, where a trolley system is planned to carry riders between the mall and Cooper Creek Shopping Center, perhaps going as far as Lakewood Ranch, Blanchard said.
"We're learning more about that, as the mall opening is right around the corner," she said, adding that the company has contracted with a private firm to operate the trolleys.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.