Using Marion County’s Interactive Map, we’ve roughed in the project areas (turquoise blue). As you can see, they are within the Urban Growth Boundary and outside of the Farmland Preservation Area.
by Busy Shires
April 27, 2021
Did you notice all the extra traffic and snow birds this winter in Ocala? To accommodate for the increase in traffic – from cars, to horse trailers and big trucks – there are five major road projects in Marion County. These road projects will make the roads safer for people and horses around the World Equestrian Center and they will help the big trucks gain better access to I-75. The good news is that all five projects are located outside of the Farmland Preservation Area.
With the opening of the World Equestrian Center (WEC), Marion County is becoming the epicenter for horse owners seeking the warmth of a Florida winter to train and show their horses. During this winter’s show season, over 2,000 horses showed at WEC! That’s in addition to the nearly 80,000 horses that already call Marion County home.
Marion County’s distribution industry is also booming. Over the next five years, an additional 5 million square feet of industrial and warehouse space will be built to accommodate several new distribution centers. This square footage is in addition to the existing Fed Ex, Chewy’s, Amazon, AutoZone, and Dollar Tree distribution centers. The central location of Ocala with easy access to Jacksonville and Tampa via I-75 has made the area an ideal distribution hub.
One of the largest road projects is a new interchange on the east side of I-75 at NW 49th St/NW 35th St. This new interchange will travel over I-75 to connect into the existing road at NW 49th St./NW 44th Ave. on the west side. A new intersection will also be built at NW 49th St./NW 44th Ave. From this new intersection, a new two-lane road will be built to connect to CR 225A north of the intersection at US 27.
In addition, NW 70th Ave./NW 80th Ave. will be four-laned from SW 80th St. to 600 feet North of US 27. The intersections at each end of NW 70th Ave./NW 80th Ave. at US Hwy 27 and Hwy 40 will be improved with turn lanes. Also, 600 feet on both the north side of US 27 and the south side of Hwy. 40 will also be four-laned.
CR 225A will remain a two-lane road from the 600-foot intersection improvement at US 27 to the proposed road that connects CR 225A to NW 44th Ave. There are no additional plans to four-lane CR 225A further north of the new road at NW 44th Ave.
The Drop Down Links Below Provide More Detail On Each of the Five Projects:
1. NW 70th Ave./CR 225 A and US 27
The improvement of the intersection at NW 70th Ave./CR 225 A and US 27 is the first project. The long-term goal is to improve both of the intersections at the north and south ends of NW 70th Ave./NW 80th Ave. The north section is located at US Hwy. 27 and NW 70th Ave./CR 225A and the south section is located at Hwy. 40 and NW 80th Ave.
The intersection improvements extend approximately 600 feet on both sides of US 27. The map shows the location of the improvements, the intersection “approaches” and the Drainage Retention Areas (DRAs) north and south of US 27.
This project is funded by Marion County for a cost of approximately $4.7 million. Guerra Development Corp. is the design engineer and Commercial Industrial Corporation is the contractor.
This project is about to schedule a pre-construction meeting. The recent pre-construction meeting was cancelled until further notice. At the pre-construction meeting, all the interested parties meet to discuss the start date. After this meeting, the County’s Procurement Department will issue a Notice to Proceed for construction.
Other than the 600 feet included in the intersection improvements, this road will not be four-laned further north. There are also no additional plans to four-lane CR 225A further north of the new road at NW 44th Ave. This section of CR 225A is not located in the Farmland Preservation Area.
2. NW 80th Ave. and Hwy. 40
This project will consist of improving the intersection and approaches at Hwy. 40 and NW 80th Ave. The design of this intersection improvement will be similar to the intersection improvements at NW 70th Ave./CR 225A and US 27, but they are not complete; thereby no plans are available for viewing.
3. Four-Lane of NW 70th Ave./NW 80th Ave.
NW 70th Ave./NW 80th Ave. will be four-laned from SW 80th St. to 600 feet North of US 27. This project is in the design/survey phase and is predicted to start in 2023 or 2024.
4. New I-75 Interchange at NW 49th St./NW 35th St.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is building this new interchange. Steven Buck is the Project Manager at FDOT. This interchange will extend from the NW 35th St. extension that Marion County is constructing, which ends at the Amazon warehouse. The new street will go through the mining operation. This new FDOT interchange will go over I-75, via a bridge, from NW 35th St. on the east side and it will tie into the existing NW 49th St. on the west side of I-75.
This is a diverging diamond interchange configuration. Marion County has requested that the interchange include design features that will help the County further define it’s identity as the Horse Capital of the World® such as live oak “canopy” trees rather than palm trees for landscaping and three-board fencing rather than chain link fencing around the retention areas. These design features will help the interchange serve as a gateway into the area.
On the west side of I-75, a new intersection at NW 49th St. and NW 44th Ave. will be built. Traffic will have access to NW 44th Ave., which runs parallel to I-75 and connects to US 27 and Hwy. 326.
The project is in the design phase and it is fully funded for all phases (design, right of way and construction.) Construction is anticipated to begin in December of 2024. The cost of the project is approximately $40 million for construction.
5. Future Connection of CR 225A to NW 49th St./NW 44th Ave.
This road project is funded by Marion County. The connection of CR 225A to the new intersection at NW 49th St./NW 44th Ave. is under design. A preliminary engineering report presenting various options was developed by Guerra Development Corp. and accepted by the Marion County Board of County Commissioners during 2010.
Funding of eventual construction is planned to take place at two intervals:
- NW 49th St. (1.1 mi west of NW 44th Ave. to NW 44th Ave.), Phase 3A for FY 2020/21, length = 1.1 miles.
- NW 49th St. (CR 225A to 1.1 mi west of NW 44th Ave.), Phase 3B for FY 2022/23, length = 2.3 miles.
This video rendering from the FDOT illustrates how a diverging diamond intersection works.
This is the most up to date information obtained from the Marion County Engineering Department and the Florida Department of Transportation. However, all schedules are subject to change, based upon funding. Marion County’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is updated yearly.
Florida Department of Transportation – District 5 HQ (Deland) – 386-943-5171
Ocala/Marion TPO (Transportation & Planning Organization) – 352-438-2630
Marion County Office of the County Engineer – 352-671-8686
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