I-75 corridor receives advanced funding
Sure, the traffic on Interstate 75 has tested the patience of many drivers, especially as the Florida Department of Transportation transforms the interchange of I-75 and University Parkway into a configuration never before seen in the state of Florida, the diverging diamond.
But more projects are on the horizon — and sooner than expected. Although FDOT plans to start construction on the I-75/State Road 64 interchange improvements in late summer, construction one exit south will be starting soon, as well.
FDOT will reconfigure the interchange of I-75 and State Road 70 starting in 2018 — five years ahead of the original timeline, because the Florida Legislature has poured $10.8 billion into FDOT’s coffers for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
“It sounds great,” Lakewood Ranch resident Larry George said. “Obviously none of us enjoy all of the construction, but we certainly don’t enjoy all of the current traffic slowdowns we have to endure. Let’s get these projects started. That’s gets them finished all that much sooner.”
The S.R. 70 project will rebuild the interchange from its existing design, called a partial cloverleaf, to a modified diamond interchange with a single loop in the northwest quadrant.
Interchange improvements also will include replacement of entrance and exit ramps and will add emergency stopping sites on the exit ramps.
“The ability to deliver plans early, the availability of funds and that it was a priority project enabled us to advance this project,” FDOT spokesman Robin Stublen said.
FDOT already has funding lined up for S.R. 64/I-75 interchange improvements, estimated at $45.5 million. Construction should start in late summer, around the same time FDOT completes its diverging diamond project at University Parkway and I-75.
The S.R. 64 project is for the interchange only and will require modifications to the existing I-75/S.R. 64 bridges, the replacement of the existing I-75/S.R. 64 entrances and exit ramps and the widening of S.R. 64 from east of 64th Court East to west of Grand Harbour Parkway.
All the construction will mean those traveling the corridor through Manatee County will endure more than five consecutive years of major road work.
Stublen said construction on interchanges adjacent to one another should offer no cumulative effect on traffic.
Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said FDOT has shown it can manage traffic well during construction and impacts should be minimal.
“I don’t think we’re going to see as big of a traffic impact as you would think,” she said. “The sooner they start, the sooner they’ll be done.”
Here's a breakdown of the projects:
I-75 at S.R. 64
Length: Interchange only
What’s there: Six-lane I-75 with a partial cloverleaf design
What’s coming: A modified diamond interchange design with a single loop in the northwest quadrant. Interchange improvements also will include replacement of entrance and exit ramps and will add emergency stopping sites on the exit ramps.
Estimated start date: Late summer 2017
Estimated completion: No completion date set
Cost: $45.5 million
I-75 at S.R. 70
Length: 6.75 miles
What’s there: Six-lane I-75 with partial cloverleaf design at the interchange with S.R. 70.
What’s coming: A modified diamond interchange design with a single loop in the northwest quadrant. Interchange improvements also will include replacement of entrance and exit ramps and will add emergency stopping sites on the exit ramps. FDOT will widen I-75 to an eight-lane highway. The project will rebuild I-75 bridges over S.R. 70 and widen I-75 bridges at Foley Creek and Braden River.
Estimated start date: Late 2018
Estimated completion: Contract not yet awarded.
Cost: Engineering still to be completed
I-75 at University Parkway
Length: 3.5 miles
What was there: Six-lane interstate with diamond design interchange
What’s coming: A diverging diamond interchange; an auxiliary lane on northbound and southbound I-75; new bridges on I-75 over University Parkway; widening of University Parkway; widening of I-75 bridges over Errie Creek and Foley Creek; realignment of on-ramps and off-ramps at I-75 and University Parkway.
Start date: August 2015
Estimated completion: Fall 2017
Cost: $74.5 million
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