BRADENTON -- Metropolitan Planning Organization engineers see University Parkway and I-75 as a diamond in the rough. At Monday's meeting, they laid out what would be a complete reconfiguration of how traffic travels through one of the busiest intersections in Manatee County. The engineers say its design is for comfort, not speed, and that with the new design will come a safer intersection. Sounds good, but any celebration may be a little premature, because as of now, the money for such a project does not exist.
Kevin Ingle, PE, Florida Department of Transportation Project Manager for District 1 says the new design "reduces vehicular delays, crash rate and is safer."
The "Diverging Diamond Interchange" design was the preferred from five outlined in Monday's presentation, and is said to have a lower price tag on right of ways and construction than most of the other options offered. Ingle also says, "there is less environmental impact."
The project would change everything about the intersection; the amount of lanes on University as well as the number of lanes on I-75. The speed wouldn't rise, but the proposed, less-interrupted flow of traffic would keep cars from stacking up as they do in traditional intersections.
There will be 3.5 miles of I-75, and a little over a mile of University Parkway completely remapped.
There is currently more square feet of development centered around that intersection than any other area in both Manatee and Sarasota County. A new mall, a new aquatic park, and shopping centers in all directions already have people begging for relief, while the rowing facility at Benderson Park is expected to continue to draw larger events.
But it always comes back to the money. For now, it is remains a diamond in the dark.
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