FDOT Hold Discussion On Upcoming Intersection
The exchange between I-75 and University Parkway is getting a renovation from the Florida Department of Transportation’s plan for a connection of onramps and turn lanes. Last week, a public discussion was held to educate the business owners and concerned citizens about the plans and schedule for the construction of the interchange, and how it might affect their businesses.
Kevin Ingle, a representative and engineer with the Florida Department of Transportation, elaborated further on the state's plans for the intersection. In general, Ingle said the goal of the intersection was to “improve the movement of people and goods.” Called a “Diverging Diamond Intersection,” the new construction is designed to speed the flow of traffic around that high-volume section of road. Additional express lanes and dedicated turn lanes are expected to reduce the amount of time spent waiting at traffic lights and should allow ease of commute in all directions from the intersection.
While there would be a few other modifications to the intersection, Ingle says the only major construction would be a lengthening of the northbound turn lane. The intersection should otherwise remain largely the way it is, so that residents and commuters do not have to worry about anticipating and learning a new intersection.
The project is set to begin in the summer of 2015, wrapping up by the summer of 2017. In the meantime, Ingle told the public that the number of lanes currently open on I-75 and University would remain constant during regular business hours. From the hours of 12am to 5am, there will be some lane closures, and on a few nights University Parkway will be closed during those hours. Ingle said the public would be given advance notice of the closures well before they occurred. During certain points of the process, temporary bridges will be erected during the night to divert traffic over the construction to maintain traffic flow through the area.
This project is already completely funded, and has been moved forward in the FDOT schedule from its original date in 2035, although the FDOT did not say why the project was moved forward. The $315 million-dollar Mall at University Town Center was just completed, and over 7,000 housing units are expected to arrive in the nearby Lakewood Ranch area over the upcoming years.
Judith Williams, a local business owner and community leader, said at the discussion that while the period of construction might be unpleasant, within 18 months to two years the quality of life for businesses and residents would improve dramatically. “Big or small,” she said, “it’s going to affect us all.”