SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) — If you’ve been waking up early with News Channel 8 you have likely heard WFLA traffic reporter Leslee Lacey talking about overnight construction along I-75 at University Pkwy for the past year. Recently there have been some new developments on the one of a kind project called the Diverging Diamond Interchange. Sarasota and Manatee county commuters are another step closer to a construction-free ride along I-75 near the county line.
The project is now over half way complete. The new southbound I-75 lanes are open, on what will eventually be Florida’s first Diverging Diamond Interchange.
FDOT Project Manager Marlena Gore says, when complete, the new interchange will help drivers tremendously because it increases traffic capacity and decreases a lot of conflicts, specifically left turn movements. And that’s when the majority of accidents happen.
Gore adds, “We’re eliminating that movement so the diverging pattern is more right turns than left turns, thus a much safer interchange.”
At this point, crews are installing sound walls, storm water drainage, and reconstructing I-75.
Before Christmas drivers should see northbound traffic on I-75 temporarily using a bridge, while the new northbound lanes are created. Drivers will also see University Pkwy temporarily shift.
The goal of this roughly $75 million face-lift is to have it operational before the World Rowing Competition, which debuts in Sarasota in September. And for added incentive, there’s a $5 million contractor bonus for finishing roughly a month early. That will bump the price up to roughly $80 million.
Aside from a few typical weather delays the project is running right on time. Gore expects to have the project completed in July, which is plenty of time before tens of thousands of spectators and Olympic rowers, descend on Sarasota waterways.
Many states utilize Diverging Diamond interchanges, however the one in Sarasota will be the largest in the nation.