SARASOTA -- With Lakewood Ranch Boulevard approved to extend south to Fruitville Road, motorists will have a north-south connecting road in addition to Interstate 75. As Lakewood Ranch continues to develop south into Sarasota County, there may also be a way to travel over the highway to alleviate traffic along University Parkway.
An I-75 overpass is being proposed between Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and North Cattlemen Road, with a second phase of the roadway extension to Honore Road west of The Mall at University Town Center.
Sarasota County Commission is being asked by county staff to authorize a Comprehensive Plan amendment to show the proposed improvement on the Future Thoroughfare Plan at its Tuesday meeting in Venice. The commission's OK would only be the initial authorization to start the Comprehensive Plan amendment process, county spokesman Jason Bartolone said.
The next steps would include public workshops, going before the county Planning Commission and holding public hearings before the Board of County Commissioners before approval of the overpass roadway con
nection, Bartolone said.
The roadway would connect Lakewood Ranch Boulevard from the Villages of Lakewood Ranch South development to North Cattlemen Road, which runs alongside Nathan Benderson Park. The Villages, a 5,500-acre combination of residential and commercial development, will eventually contain 5,100 residential units, two village centers, 300,000 square feet of commercial space, public space and a new school.
The overpass roadway is proposed to be built near the southern end of Nathan Benderson Park.
Because of its proximity to Benderson Park, county staff met with members of the Meadows Community Association, which manages The Meadows neighborhood, to discuss the proposed I-75 overpass. While the association favors an overpass being built, they suggested it be built near the northern portion of the park as it would be less expensive and create fewer issues, said Len Smally, president of the Meadows Community Association. Smally said if it is built where proposed, there will be conflicts with existing power lines, boat lines and homes.
If built further north, it would "save millions of dollars and be in closer connection with Desoto Road," Smally said.
"You can still have all your connections on both sides of the interstate," he said. "It provides a parallel corridor to University Parkway and take some traffic off there."
Also on the agenda, the commission could approve a locally funded agreement with the city of Sarasota for a roundabouts at U.S. 41 and 10th Street and at U.S. 41 and 14th Street. City commissioners approved this agreement last week.
On the county commission's Wednesday meeting agenda in Sarasota, county staff will outline a process to be used to update the county Comprehensive Plan, which lays out policy, vision and strategy for the future. The outline will address the "comprehensive plan, the project timeline, staffing, methods of public outreach and the anticipated outcome of the update," according to agenda supplemental material. The Sarasota 2050 plan is a component of this comprehensive plan. The last time the county comprehensive plan had a full chapter-by-chapter update was 2006.
Claire Aronson, University Parkway/Sarasota reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.