Numerous factors, including increased tourism leading to safety and transportation issues, department says
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is inviting members of the public to attend an in-person meeting on Feb. 23 regarding the Southwest Connect™ Interstate 75 North Corridor Master Plan, which will involve the area from south of State Route 777 (River Road) in Sarasota County to north of Moccasin Wallow Road in Manatee County, the department has announced.
FDOT will be analyzing challenges that have arisen with the state interstate system, the department explains. Its findings, as well as recommendations on how to enhance safety and mobility, will be documented in a master plan, FDOT explains. The improvements identified in the master plan may include widening of roads, managed lanes, modifying interchanges, and/or evaluating new interchanges.
“This Master Plan will serve as a guide to allow FDOT to focus future efforts and funding toward the most critical areas first,” the department adds.
Other goals of the undertaking, FDOT says, are as follows:
- Preserve the operational integrity and regional functionality of I-75 (“and, therefore, the regional transportation network”) by complementing similar corridor improvements to both the north and south.
- “Enhance emergency evacuation and response times.”
The Southwest Connect™ I-75 North Corridor is 40 miles long, FDOT points out. It “traverses the major urban areas of Sarasota and Bradenton. It also crosses the navigable Manatee River in Manatee County near the northern project terminus. The functional classification of I-75 within the project limits is Urban Principal Arterial – Interstate,” FDOT adds.
This segment of I-75 consists of six and eight divided lanes, the department notes. “Existing right of way along the corridor ranges from approximately 300 feet to 550 feet in width,” FDOT adds.
The master plan process includes public outreach, such as the Feb. 23 meeting, FDOT points out. Members of the public will be able to identify projects they would like to see move into the development process, the department adds.
The Southwest Connect™ Interstate 75 North Corridor Master Plan is in the planning and feasibility phase, which is the beginning of the process, FDOT notes.
Following the completion of that phase, FDOT points out, the next step will be the Project Development and Environment Study, during which the location and conceptual design of road improvements will be identified, and environmental and social impacts will be assessed.
The third step will be the design process, the department says, followed by right of way acquisition and then, finally, construction.
The final version of the master plan is expected to be completed late this summer or by early fall, FDOT adds.
Interstate 75 and Interstate 4 both have “experienced an increase in traffic driven by many factors,” FDOT points out. Among those factors are population growth, development, increased tourism and special events, the department adds.
“These traffic increases have led to a number of safety and transportation issues,” FDOT says.
The Feb. 23 meeting will be conducted from 5 to 7 p.m. at the offices of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee County, which are located at 2320 Cattlemen Road in Sarasota, the release adds. Individuals also may get involved with the master plan process by going online at SWFLInterstates.com/north-corridor-vpm.
Additionally, individuals may participate in a live, online question-and-answer session set for 6 p.m. on Feb. 21. Registration for that is available through this link.
Materials pertinent to the initiative will be available online for review between Feb. 20 and March 6, FDOT points out. The website is http://swflinterstates.com/i75-north-corridor.