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The River Road interchange is the southern portion of Interstate 75 on the Department of Transportation’s agenda. Officials want the input of local residents before they make plans to upgrade the busy highway.

Motorists and the general public have the opportunity to map out the future of Interstate 75 from River Road near Venice to Moccasin Wallow Road at the Sarasota-Manatee county line.

State transportation officials are analyzing future challenges along the I-75 corridor and are gathering recommendations — including those from the public — to enhance safety and mobility.

The area includes the River Road exit, which serves North Port, Englewood and Venice. A question-and-answer session is set for 5:30-6:30 p.m. tonight, Tuesday, June 15 at www.swflinterstates.com/North-Corridor-VPM.

The proposed future improvements to be identified in an I-75 Master Plan may include recommendations for widening, managed lanes, modifying interchanges, and/or evaluating new interchanges.

Visit www.swflinterstates.com/North-Corridor-VPM for more information, and to watch a question-and-answer session. Those interested can also send a comment through the website.

“A good plan will see money,” suggested Gary Harrell, director of the Charlotte County-Punta Gorda Metropolitan Planning Organization. The MPO is a multi-jurisdictional agency that determines where federal and state transportation within Charlotte County.

Harrell encourages people, especially Englewood and Cape Haze residents, to offer input.


The workshop has its roots in the 1990s with the advent of the Englewood Connector, the construction of Winchester Boulevard from South River Road in Sarasota County and Placida Road in Charlotte County.

The 1990s saw a growing worry over hurricane evacuation routes for all of Cape Haze residents — whether they were Lee County residents in Boca Grande, Charlotte County residents in Englewood East and Gulf Cove or Englewood residents in Sarasota County.

Besides evacuation, I-75 improvements can facilitate first responders and others easier access back into Englewood and Cape Haze in the wake of a hurricane or other cataclysmic event.

Now, the Wellen Park communities of North Port are attracting residents and businesses, activity that will have an impact on that section of the interstate and its exits in South Sarasota County.

“It’s a dynamic area that changes,” Harrell said.

The region, he suggested, has changed over the last 20 years since hurricane evacuation was first mapped out and will change even more over the next 20 years.

For more information, email Nicole Harris, I-75 project manager, at Nicole.Harris@dot.state.fl.us.

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