With an “overwhelming amount of traffic” in the area, work will begin on another Interstate 75 interchange even before construction on Florida’s first diverging diamond interchange is completed.
Soon after Memorial Day, work will begin on the I-75/State Road 64 interchange, just seven miles to the north of the diverging diamond interchange currently being constructed at University Parkway.
“We have an overwhelming amount of traffic in both the Sarasota and Manatee County areas,” said Marlena Gore, a Florida Department of Transportation official. “We are always looking to do infrastructure improvements to increase our capacities as well as increase our safety for the traveling public.”
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While FDOT doesn’t have an exact start date for the $39.1 million project, work will begin by the beginning of June so there will be some overlap with the construction being done at University Parkway, which is expected to be completed in time for the 2017 World Rowing Championships in September.
“The project consists of reconstructing the existing I-75 at S.R. 64 interchange to provide for a diamond configuration interchange and to provide for a future 10-lane roadway along I-75,” according to FDOT documents. “The construction plans also require modifications to the existing interchange bridges, the replacement of the existing interchange entrance and exit ramps, and the widening of S.R. 64 from east of 64th Street Court East to west of Grand Harbour Parkway.”
On Thursday afternoon at RiverLife Church in East Manatee, FDOT hosted a public workshop so residents could learn more about the project, which is expected to take two years to finish. About 35 people attended the workshop in the first hour.
Since she drives through the interchange at least once a day, East Manatee resident Jeannie Costa, who moved from Wisconsin in September, came to Thursday’s workshop to learn more.
“I’m not opposed to making something better,” Costa said.
For 82-year-old Ed Richter, who has lived near the interchange for 14 years, he wanted to see a bigger version of what would be constructed.
“It sure beats a roundabout,” he said. “I’ve always found it to be a good interchange. I’m sure there are other interchanges that need attention maybe more than this one.”
As the improvements are made, Ritcher said he will deal with congestion.
“It goes with general improvements,” he said. “I’ve been fascinated by the new kind of interchanges that are coming about, especially with down by University.”
Lori Diamant, who came to the workshop with her husband and 6-year-old twins, said they travel S.R. 64 “all the time” but are curious why work was being done on the interchange before work on the U.S. 301 interchange.
“We wanted to find out what was going to be happening here,” she said. “Just understand the traffic flow. I watched University happen.”
FDOT also has plans for projects at both the State Road 70 and U.S. 301 interchanges. The $119 million State Road 70 project, which will take 30 months, is expected to start in September 2018. The U.S. 301 project is estimated to start in 2020.
Interstate 75/State Road 64 project schedule
Stage 1: Completed by summer 2018
Construct and widen mainline I-75
Reconstruct eastbound State Road 64
Construct new bridges
Construct ramps and ponds
Stage 2: Completed by fall 2018
Construct and widen mainline shoulders
Reconstruct westbound State Road 64
Construct ramps and ponds
Stage 3: Completed by winter 2018-19
Construct State Road 64 inside curb and gutter and median
Stage 4: Completed by spring 2019
Resurfacing, road striping and final configuration
Source: Florida Department of Transportation document