PORT CHARLOTTE — Charlotte County and North Port officials want to discuss options for a new Interstate 75 interchange between Kings Highway and Toledo Blade Boulevard.
North Port City Commissioner Jill Luke, during public comments at Tuesday’s Charlotte County Commission meeting, said the lack of discussion so far could slow the long-range project.
The project is already expected to take decades to complete.
“The state was going to put interchanges on a backburner if they didn’t see more action out of the local municipalities,” she said, requesting a joint meeting between the two boards.
“I hope you will accept it and we can get these interchanges on quicker rather than a backburner and then we’re looking at it in 20 years,” she added.
County commissioners agreed and directed staff to call a joint meeting.
The date has yet to be determined.
For years, local officials from both jurisdictions — and Sarasota County — have bounced the idea around to add interchanges in the areas of Raintree Boulevard or Yorkshire Street, which pass under Interstate 75, in North Port.
Both roads connect to Veterans Boulevard on the eastern and western regions of the roadway. Raintree also turns into Hillsborough Boulevard along the Charlotte County-North Port line.
Charlotte County Commission Vice Chair Christopher Constance said a joint meeting would be “fruitful.”
“We’ve got these interchanges and I really think for us to regionally impress the folks (at the state level) that are deciding where to program interchanges, we need to get together officially,” he said.
Interchanges at either Raintree or Yorkshire would influence traffic along Veterans and other parts of the county near the North Port borderline.
Additional interstate access would also take pressure off the heavy trafficked Kings Highway and I-75 access point.
“The interchange does interest me and trying to figure out a solution (to traffic issues at) Kings Highway and the I-75 interchange,” County Commissioner Ken Doherty said.
Because the interchange would be built in North Port — a Sarasota County city — the project has been listed on the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization’s 2045 plan.
The plan designates potential traffic projects for 20 to 25 years.
The MPO — made up of elected officials from various jurisdictions — organizes and prioritizes transportation projects with input from the Florida Department of Transportation.
Charlotte County-Punta Gorda MPO Director D’Juan L. Harris told the County Commission a joint meeting could help.
“A joint meeting would show FDOT there is a coordinated effort to decide upon a location for the interchange,” he said. “The FDOT interchange staff want to see more coordination between Charlotte County and North Port on the specific location for the interchange. This meeting would kickstart things back up again.”
Luke said the state might allow interchanges at both Raintree and Yorkshire, citing Sarasota County MPO Director Dave Hutchinson.
“He stated that an interchange may go in at both locations and won’t have to haggle over one or the other,” she said.