History of Interstate 75 in Florida
Before I-75 was built, US 41 was the through route in much of southern Florida. This route followed the historic Tamiami Trail (US 41) between Miami and Naples that was completed in 1928 through the Everglades. On parts of the route north of Tampa, I-75 is also constructed parallel to US 301 and US 441.
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The northernmost portion of I-75 was first constructed primarily in the first half of the 1960s, when large sections opened between Tampa and the Georgia border. In 1967 the highway was already passable in this part of Florida.
The original 1958 plans envisioned Interstate 75 to run between the Georgia and Tampa border, where the western end of I-4 is now. It was soon foreseen that Southwest Florida would develop to such an extent that a highway was needed in this area. In 1968 the highway was planned further as far as Miami. At that time it was already possible to travel by highway to Miami via Florida’s Turnpike, which had already been completed in 1964 from Ocala via Orlando to Miami.
A route through downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg was originally planned, but it was anticipated that it would soon need to be upgraded to meet traffic demand. I-75 was then constructed along the east side of Tampa, the originally planned route being now Interstate 275. The section from the north side of Tampa to Naples was constructed in the 1970s and early 1980s, making it one of the younger Interstate Highways. This route was completed in 1985.
Originally, it was planned to build I-75 between Naples and Miami via the Tamiami Trail ( US 41 ) and connect it there to the Dolphin Expressway ( SR-836 ) to I-95 in Miami. Later in the 1970s, it was decided to build I-75 through the pre-existing Alligator Alley and upgrade it to Interstate Highway. This started in the 1980s and was completed in 1992. The stretch through Miami’s western suburbs was completed in 1986, an area largely undeveloped at the time, but the highway had a space reservationfor 2×6 lanes, demonstrating that they had good insight into the future development of the area at the time. Today this corridor is fully built and the space reserved is used for express lanes.
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Over the years, I-75 has been widened almost integrally to at least 2×3 lanes in Florida. Only the Alligator Alley between Weston and Naples will not be widened. In particular, the very long stretch from Naples to the Georgia border has been completely widened in a relatively short time to at least 2×3 lanes over a distance of almost 600 kilometers.
In 2009, a long stretch of I-75 between Naples and Fort Myers in Southwest Florida was widened to 2×3 lanes. In 2013, the portion around Fort Myers was widened to 2×3 lanes, except for the Caloosahatchee River bridge, which was widened to 2×3 lanes in 2015. As a result, approximately 75 kilometers of I-75 had been widened to 2×3 lanes in 6 years. In 2017, a 12-mile section between Lee County and Jones Loop Road at Punta Gorda was widened to 2×3 lanes. In October 2018, the last widening opened in Charlotte County near Punta Gorda.
The section between Venice and the north side of Tampa has had 2×3 lanes since at least the early 1990s, probably this section was built directly with 2×3 lanes in the 1980s. The parallel structure at Brandon is believed to have been constructed around 1987 in connection with the construction of State Route 618 through Tampa. In 2012, I-75 between Plantation and Venice was widened to 2×3 lanes. In 2014 the section followed from Tampa to I-275 at Wesley Chapel. In 2017, a 13-mile stretch of I-75 between the Hernando County border and CR-470 at Sumterville was widened to 2×3 lanes. This project cost $77 million. Subsequently, 12 kilometers further north to the interchange with Florida’s Turnpike, it has been widened to 2×3 lanes. This cost $43 million and was ready in early 2018. This section has a 1,360 m bridge over a swamp that was replaced in the early 2000s and was wide enough for 2×3 lanes. This provided at least 2×3 lanes for the entire I-75 from Tampa to the Georgia border.
In about 1995, a fairly long stretch from Florida’s Turnpike at Wildwood to the north side of Ocala was widened to 2×3 lanes. In the period 1995-1999, the remainder of I-75 from Ocala to the border with the state of Georgia was completely widened to 2×3 lanes. The widened part is approximately 230 kilometers long.
Express lanes at Miami
I-75 in the Miami metropolitan area was prepared for light rail on the route, but this space reservation in the median strip was later used for express lanes from I-595 in Weston to the Palmetto Expressway near Hialeah for 17 miles. These express lanes have 2 lanes in each direction, making a total of 12 lanes available on I-75. On March 10, 2018, the express lanes largely opened to traffic between I-595 and Miami Gardens Drive. Later in 2018, the extended express lanes opened to the Palmetto Expressway and in 2019 all flyovers opened at the interchange with Florida’s Turnpike.
Miami – Naples
|Exit 9||exit 13||6 km||00-08-1984|
|Exit 1||Exit 9||13 km||00-10-1986|
|exit 13||Exit 23||16 km||00-10-1986|
|Exit 23||Exit 101||126 km||00-00-1992|
Naples – Tampa
As far as I-275 in northern Tampa. Dates are indicative.
|exit 128||Exit 143||24 km||00-00-1979|
|Exit 143||Exit 164||32 km||00-00-1980|
|Exit 182||Exit 224||68 km||00-00-1980|
|Exit 111||exit 128||27 km||00-00-1981|
|Exit 164||Exit 182||29 km||00-00-1981|
|Exit 224||Exit 246||35 km||00-00-1982|
|Exit 246||Exit 265||31 km||00-00-1983|
|Exit 270||Exit 275||8 km||00-00-1984|
|Exit 265||Exit 270||8 km||00-00-1985|
Tampa – Georgia
|Exit 427||Exit 439||19 km||00-00-1962|
|Exit 414||Exit 427||21 km||00-00-1964|
|Exit 439||Exit 471||51 km||00-00-1964|
|Exit 328||Exit 414||138 km||24-07-1964|
|Exit 275||Exit 328||85 km||00-00-1967|
At Tampa, express lanes are planned on I-75.
The stretch from I-75 through the Everglades is a toll road, operated by the Florida Department of Transportation. This part is also called Alligator Alley. Tolls are one of the lowest in the United States. It was proposed in 2006 to privatize the toll road, but in a tender in 2008 there were no candidates willing to meet the requirements.
Furthermore, in the suburbs of Miami there is a system of express lanes where tolls have to be paid. Tolls are fully electronic on express lanes.
I-75 at Tampa heading south.
Every day, 104,000 vehicles drive from its inception in Miami, increasing to 165,000 vehicles in the western suburbs. About 19,000 vehicles cross the toll road every dayAlligator Alley, after which the intensities from Naples increase to about 81,000 vehicles. Despite the strong urbanization between Naples and Tampa, the highway is not very busy everywhere, with about 49,000 vehicles at Port Charlotte, and 117,000 vehicles in Sarasota. After I-275, this drops to about 60,000 vehicles, before rising again to 123,500 vehicles at Tampa. North of Tampa, intensities drop to 44,000 vehicles, rising again to 83,000 vehicles in Ocala. The section to Lake City usually has between 45,000 and 60,000 vehicles per day, which is quite a lot for a through highway in the countryside. Some 38,600 vehicles cross the Georgia border every day.
The intensities below are north of the relevant connection.
|Exit 1||Exit 19 (I-595)||2×4||31 km|
|Exit 19||Exit 23||2×3||6 km|
|Exit 23||Exit 105||2×2||132 km|
|Exit 105||Exit 250||2×3||233 km|
|Exit 250||Exit 256||2×4||10 km|
|Exit 256||Exit 274||2×3||29 km|
|Exit 274||Exit 279||2×4||8 km|
|Exit 279||Exit 471||2×3||309 km|