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While elected officials of Sarasota and Manatee counties have been working with Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) rep- resentatives to move a "diverging diamond" interchange project into the fast lane, they are hopeful the project will not hit the brakes in the Legislature this session. Last month, both County Commissions a p p r o v e d r e s o - l u t i o n s f o r m a l l y supporting the new p l a n a t I n t e r s t a t e 7 5 a n d U n i v e r s i t y Parkway and pledged to proceed with their own separate, future roadway improvements in the area. Meanwhile, FDOT officials are making the diverging diamond a priority and seeking state transportation dollars for it, saying the project will improve traffic flow in a highly congested part of Southwest Florida. This diverging diamond would be the first such design in the state. The fate of the plan rests with state leg- i s l a t o r s , w h e n t h e Senate and House will head into the last two weeks of the legisla- tive session after the A mid-March aerial photo of Nathan Benderson Park (top) and the Mall at University Town Center (lower right) shows Interstate 75 (at left) and University Parkway (bottom of photo). Image courtesy Sarasota County FAST-TRACK PLAN FOR A DIVERGING DIAMOND INTERCHANGE HINGES ON SENATE AND HOUSE NEGOTIATIONS WAITING ON STATE MONEY Next week, hopefully, this gets hammered out. Charles Hines Chairman Sarasota County Commission By Roger Drouin County Editor

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