New I-75 Interchange in Florida Gets $4 Million Grant

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announces $4 million infrastructure grant
“I look forward to seeing the opportunities this award will create," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said while announcing the grant. (Gov. Ron DeSantis via Twitter)

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Florida’s Interstate 75 in the Ocala area is getting a new interchange to ease congestion and support businesses such as a new Buc-ee’s travel center.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 7 awarded a $4 million grant from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to the Florida Department of Transportation to add the interchange at I-75 and Northwest 49th Street in Marion County. He described the grant as a strategic investment to promote economic growth.

“Ocala’s ideal location at the center of our state makes it prime for new manufacturing opportunities and for visitors looking for a place to stop and grab some beaver nuggets,” DeSantis said. “I look forward to seeing the opportunities this award will create for Floridians, businesses and communities in central Florida.”

One aspect of this new funding award is to improve the transportation infrastructure in order to attract more businesses to the Ocala area. It also will support a new Buc-ee’s location, the third in the state, that will have an 80,000-square-foot travel center with 120 fuel pumps and 720 visitor parking spots.

Buce-ee's sign raised at location in New Braunfels, Texas

A Buc-ee's sign is raised at a location in New Braunfels, Texas. (Buc-ee's) 

“We are very excited about being here in Florida. We have had a lot of success in the two stores that we have operating on Interstate 95, and we’ve known for a long time that Interstate 75 would be a great location but we were looking for the right piece of property,” said Arch “Beaver” Aplin, founder and CEO of Buc-ee’s.

The economic impact of FDOT’s infrastructure project on I-75 is forecast to bring in $21 million and create 1,500 jobs while benefiting freight movement by helping to strengthen Ocala as a strategic hub for freight-related travel in central Florida.

“This new I-75 interchange is more than just a road,” FDOT Secretary Jared Perdue said. “Building this interchange greatly benefits our great state by connecting local communities, creating jobs, improving regional and statewide travel for residents, visitors, and freight-related traffic, and helping to improve the resiliency of Florida’s transportation network.”

The interchange will help ease traffic flows at other Ocala area I-75 interchanges and expand access to I-75 for two industrial and commercial development complexes and a nearby World Equestrian Center.

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I-75 is one of Florida’s primary freight corridors where some 30 million daily truck miles are traveled on the state’s highway system. FDOT forecast that all major routes in the state will experience significant growth in truck tonnage movement by 2045.

“The number of intraregional and last-mile truck trips have increased while the average length of haul has declined with more distribution/fulfillment centers being built,” according to FDOT’s 2020 Freight Mobility and Trade Plan. “Average trip lengths have decreased 37% since 2000, while urban vehicle miles traveled have increased for much of this period. Due to the more frequent but shorter trips, congestion and bottlenecks have increased in dense urban areas.”

Revenue for the new interchange project is coming from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, an economic development program to improve the state’s public infrastructure and workforce training.

Florida’s governor selects which proposals will receive state dollars after requests are reviewed by the state Department of Economic Opportunity and Enterprise Florida Inc.

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