UNIVERSITY PARK -- As the holiday season officially kicks off Thanksgiving Day weekend, construction work on the Interstate 75/University Parkway diverging diamond interchange will be temporarily suspended.
Beginning Thanksgiving, no work done will be done on the project with no lane closures through Sunday, according to Robin Stublen, Florida Department of Transportation spokesman.
"All lanes will be open on I-75 and University Parkway. Be patient," Stublen said in an email.
Now almost in its fourth month of construction, work on the first diverging diamond interchange in Florida and the largest in the United States when completed, is well underway. The $74.5 million project is expected to be completed in time for the 2017 World Rowing Championship at Nathan Benderson Park from Sept. 24-Oct. 1, 2017.
"The project is going well and is on time," Stublen said Monday.
With the expected increase in traffic around The Mall at University Town Center during the holiday season, Stublen encouraged patience.
"Be patient and watch for other drivers," he said.
A diverging diamond interchange "offers a proven solution for improving overall traffic operations and safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians," according to a flier describing the project. Traffic crosses to the left (opposite) side of the road guided by signals at each crossover as it enters or leaves the interstate and/or passes through the interchange on University Parkway.
In mid-December, FDOT plans to use a bulldozer to push a prefabricated three-lane temporary bridge onto I-75 as part of the diverging diamond interchange project. The bridge is expected to be pushed across the interstate over one night and positioned between existing I-75 bridges over University Parkway, project manager Marlena Gore told Manatee and Sarasota County commissions during a joint meeting last month.
Southbound traffic will travel on the temporary bridge while the existing I-75 bridge is demolished, according to Gore.
Planned improvements include:
Adding auxiliary lanes on northbound and southbound I-75.
Constructing new bridges on I-75 over University Parkway.
Widening University Parkway and I-75 bridges over Erie Creek and Foley Creek.
Realigning onramps and offramps at I-75/University Parkway.
Adding ponds and drainage improvements.
New lighting and signals.
Constructing a noise wall on the west side of I-75.
Adding sidewalks, bike lanes and walkways.
Information: Go to swflroads.com/i75/university/.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.