The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Five has commenced a Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study for a new Interstate 75 (I-75) interchange at NW 49th/35th Street in Marion County, Florida. The Marion County Comprehensive Plan outlines a vision to enhance the livability of its residents and promote economic growth in the region. Thus, the county has designated land adjacent to I-75 as a future commerce park, including the Ocala 489 Commerce Park. Development in this area will result in traffic volume increases along I-75 and the entire local roadway network. A new I-75 interchange at NW 49th Street (approximately midway between the two existing interchanges) and extension of NW 49 Street from NW 44 Avenue to NW 35 Avenue is thus vital to avoid future congestion at the existing interchanges, “traffic stress” and undesirable safety conditions along the local street network. The PD&E Study is evaluating preliminary engineering and environmentally feasible solutions, in order to address the needs of this project including: promote economic viability and job creation, improve interstate and regional mobility, address locally supported long term regional needs, and accommodate future traffic growth.
The approach to this study will be to thoroughly assess the capacity, safety, mobility and community needs of the corridor, develop alternatives to address those needs, and evaluate them according to regulatory agency requirements and community values.
This study is currently in the second phase of the project development process which is known as the Project Development and Environment, or PD&E, phase. The PD&E phase generally involves three components: developing and evaluating engineering alternatives, determining the impacts those alternatives will have on the social, natural, physical and cultural environments, and obtaining public input and consensus. The PD&E study entails the preparation of all preliminary engineering and environmental documentation and all additional environmental documents.
FDOT started a public involvement program in July 2017 as a part of this PD&E Study. The program will continue throughout the project. This process is designed to ensure public input in the development of alternatives by actively encouraging and facilitating the participation of the general public, citizen groups, interest groups, elected and appointed officials, environmental resource agencies, and other stakeholders. Opportunities to comment include communicating with project staff and attending public meetings. FDOT is required to comply with various non-discrimination laws and regulations, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Public participation is solicited without regard to race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability or family status.