Leaders want updates to interstate through Charlotte County

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

Kings Highway exit is a road many of us have to take if we want to head to Port Charlotte. But that could change.

Leaders in Charlotte County want to make it easier for you to get from I-75 to Port Charlotte.

Nine miles separates two existing exits on the interstate in Charlotte County. That’s exits for Kings Highway and Toledo Blade Boulevard.

The roadway is congested because a lot of traffic from nearby Peachland Boulevard and Veterans Boulevard pours out onto Kings, which merges onto I-75.

Drivers could one day get on and off the interstate north of that area, but many things would have to fall into place for that to become a reality.

“I’ve noticed a big difference now that I’ve lived here for 17 years,” Bridget Cowart said.

More development is bringing more traffic to Charlotte County roads.

“When we have the snowbirds here, it makes it even more congested,” Cowart said.

That’s why the Florida Department of Transportation will consider expanding I-75 up to 10 lanes and adding up to three new interchanges along the Southwest Florida corridor.

“They can divert off easier traffic and not have to wait so long in traffic,” Cowart said.

We could see an interchange at Raintree Boulevard in Charlotte County or nearby Yorkshire Street, along with Del Prado in Lee County or Vanderbilt in Collier.

FDOT is looking at nearby interchanges to see if there is a need for an entirely new exit.

“We take a look at those see if we could put in fixes at those specific locations to address those problems,” said Wayne Gaither , a director with FDOT.

Drivers realize the interstate wouldn’t be smooth sailing right away.

“It will shut down that stretch of highway for a little bit of time but at the end game, it would help a lot,” Johnnie Criss said.

It’s up to Federal High Administration to decide if the work is needed, looking ahead as far as 25 years to keep up with the fast-growing area.

“More safety for people driving,” Cowart said.

If the feds say the project is necessary, FDOT tells us the hardest part would be getting funding.

If everything in the process gets a green light, it could be more than a decade before drivers can travel on an interchange.

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