FDOT begins its $80.8 million project for a safer I-75/S.R. 70 interchange.
The way Sabal Harbour’s Susie Nesbitt sees it, the construction about to begin on State Road 70 will be worth any pain it causes.
The Florida Department of Transportation will begin work Oct. 8 to reconfigure and rebuild the interchange of Interstate 75 and State Road 70. It also adds a through-lane in each direction of I-75 between State Road 64 and University Parkway, bringing the lane count collectively from six to eight.
“Widening the interstate is going to be huge,” Nesbitt said. “It should make things smoother. I travel through (the diverging diamond interchange at) University Parkway once a week and it’s so much better.”
The new interchange configuration will not be a diverging diamond, but it will eliminate the need for two exits from I-75 onto S.R. 70. Having one single exit loop in the northwest quadrant of the interchange will keep drivers from merging into one another’s paths as they do now.
The existing loop in the northeast quadrant, which handles northbound I-75 traffic exiting to westbound S.R. 70, will be replaced to create one northbound exit ramp. Northbound drivers will either turn east or west directly onto S.R. 70.
“This is beautiful, getting rid of the merge left,” Tara Preserve’s Andy Russell said, pointing to a map during a pre-construction meeting Sept. 13 at Manatee Technical College. “There will be a lot less problems with traffic and accidents.”
FDOT’s $80.8 million project also includes rebuilding the overpass bridges, adding emergency stopping sites on the exit ramps and installing 5-foot sidewalks and 6.5-foot bike lanes on S.R. 70.
The project is three times larger than improvements being done at the interchange at State Road 64 and I-75, now under construction.
“I think it’s amazing what they are doing,” Susie Nesbitt’s husband, John Nesbitt, added.
FDOT spokesman Brian Bollas said from now until the end of the year, contractor Sacyr Construction Inc. will set up its maintenance-of-traffic patterns with barrels and cones, finish coordinating utilities and begin excavating stormwater ponds.
Any roadway closures or detours will be announced about a week in advance and occur overnight, as they have for both the S.R. 64 and diverging diamond projects, he said.