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News Section: Local Government

Costs to Rise for Delayed I-75/University Improvements

Published Wednesday, July 30, 2014 12:05 am

BRADENTON – The start date for the controversial "diverging diamond interchange" at Interstate 75 and University Parkway has been pushed back from early next year to August of 2015. Meanwhile, projected construction costs have risen by more than $12 million according to updates given to the Sarasota/Manatee MPO at Monday's meeting.

The project has already been criticized for coming far too late after extensive development in the nearby area was continuously approved in recent years. In addition to a former outlet center on the north side of University Parkway that was redeveloped with significant additions, including hotels, additional restaurants and a large health club, a massive strip mall anchored by a Super Target was added across the street.
A rendering of the planned diverging diamond interchange

In October, an enormous commercial retail project dubbed the Mall at University Town Center will open just east of the big box plaza, meaning the colossal construction project would be breaking ground just as traffic volumes spike significantly. Then there's also the frequent weekend rowing events at Nathan Benderson Park (located behind the mall) that already compound weekend traffic volumes in the area.
A rendering of the Mall at University Town Center currently being built near the site of the exchange

With dense development east of the interstate in Lakewood Ranch and thousands of additional homes planned or under construction, the traffic surrounding the project could prove disastrous to commuters or those seeking to shop at the many local stores already in the immediate vicinity of the exit (213 off of I-75).

At Monday's meeting, officials voiced concerns that the project be completed before the 2017 World Rowing Championships, which are scheduled to be hosted at the rowing facility and include the commitment of much public money, including a $2.8 million committment from Manatee County.

Originally conceived at $60 million, the projected price tag for the interchange is now up to $72 million as costs for a noise-reducing wall, additional earthwork and other items added by FDOT are tacked on, and officials say that there could still be plenty of FDOT mandated revisions to project designs which are about halfway complete.
Nathan Benderson Park




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Once more our elected officials have cost ordinary tax payers enormous amounts of money while rewarding those, who appear to reward them. Voters need to be more discerning on who is elected to office, as well as, do their best to identify ties to corporate welfare recipients. President Reagan railed against welfare queens while the welfare kings raided the treasury blind. Let us not continue to repeat voting mistakes.
Posted by Nancy R Dean on July 31, 2014

Since the 1970s federal highway planners have advised local governments to avoid dense development near interchanges with interstate highways. This highway system is intended as a military transportation system that will be closed to civilians when deemed necessary by the military. Interstate highways never were intended to be used for local traffic needs. Failures in planning are the reasons for the existing congestion. Continuing to compound it by enabling developers to insist on further speculation in these areas is unconscionable. Following decades of Manatee County over-development that has enabled the harvesting of areas north and northeast of this interchange, Sarasota County commissioners now are gutting its 2050 policies that would prevent sprawl and protect the environment and wildlife. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are pouring into campaigns for puppet office holders who will do the bidding of the "Growth Machine" that emerges when developers capture county government during periods of rampant speculation and over-development. Crashes are inevitable for such frenzies. Taxpayers and residents wind up the victims, having to bear the real costs and having to live in the resulting disaster zones. Reactions to Manatee County proposals to alter comprehensive plan designations resulted in an outpouring over Long Bar Point. Taking back the planning and commission seats in these two counties is the only solution. Voters best be aware that this is their choice. Big money may try to seduce voters into accepting their candidates, but wary voters can enable concerned candidates to survive the machines and go on to turn around the commissions that have been captured by developers. It is never too late to become concerned, because the situations will only worsen. Releasing captured political seats starts one seat at a time, eventually, a majority voice will resonate with the will of the voters in our communities, not that of a handful of investors who will ravage and move on. Please keep on this issue TBT, our traditional media are now beholden to the machines.
Posted by Charles Ivarch on July 31, 2014

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Name Date
Dorothy Hill July 28 2015
David Maberry July 24, 2015
Juanita Floyd June 26, 2015
Elizabeth Bennett July 22, 2015
John Lawler July 21, 2015
Marilyn Doxey July 22, 2015
Donald Mills July 23, 2015
Allene O'Brien July 23, 2015
Irene Brothers July 24, 2015
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