FDOT unveils plans for enhances interstate exchanges in Sarasota County

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LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. -- Hundreds of people took advantage of a Florida Department of Transportation meeting that showed animation and aerial maps of the possible I-75 interchange improvements in Sarasota County. 

The University Town Center mall opens up later this  year, and interest is high about the potential of traffic gridlock on University Parkway near the interstate.

"It looks daunting from an aerial view, but once you go through it, most people don't even know they've gone through them," said FDOT Project Engineer Kevin Ingle.

Ingle says the 'divergent diamond' pattern only exists in about two dozen spots nationwide--and this would be the first in Florida. And several more are also planned for Sarasota County.

"We have other divergent diamond designs at Fruitville, and Clark--and Bee Ridge has a hyper concept of this, and other parts of the state, up in Tampa, down in Ft. Myers. This is the first in the state, but you'll see them all over the state," Ingle predicted.

But not so fast says former Manatee Planning Board member David Wick.

"You're still backing traffic up, you're stopping traffic on both sides of the road," he said.

Wick thinks FDOT should be using "fly-overs."

"A lane comes up, you drive over and merge down, Why can't we build them here? In Tampa they work great," Wick said.

All this is premature--since only the design has been funded. A construction start-date, is yet to be determined.

But FDOT is optimistic.

"Our state secretary has pledged this is a top priority, and we're looking to find these funds," Ingle said.