About 30 years ago, long before State Road 200 was extended to six lanes to On Top of the World, a citizens’ advisory committee and county officials identified Southwest 103rd Street Road as the best route to connect. to Interstate 75 in this part of the county.

The idea was that as the population of the National Highway 200 corridor increased, it would be necessary to extend Southwest 103rd Street Road east through the Ocala Waterway Subdivision to an exit, or an overflight, at I-75.

In early 2000, Southwest 103rd Street Road was overcrowded with developments, which contained approximately 1,000 homes. Marion County officials then identified Southwest 95th Street as the new best I-75 connector.

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The plan was to build a Southwest 95th Street interchange about a mile east of Hammett Bowen Elementary School. Before the national recession hit in 2007, Southwest 95th Street was expanded from SR 200 to Southwest 49th Avenue.

The recession changed the priorities of I-75

After Marion County came out of the recession, a new I-75 priority emerged. An exit was required, and ultimately approved, north of Ocala at 49th Street. Once in place, it will facilitate truck traffic from the Ocala / Marion County Business Park.

Meanwhile, growth was still exploding along the National Highway 200 corridor, an area dubbed the Triangle: the area west of I-75, north of County Road 484, and south of I-75. SR 200.

Now that Southwest 49th Avenue is on track to connect Ocala South with Marion Oaks, coupled with the emergence of the Florida Crossroads Industrial Park off CR 484, Marion Oaks is poised to be the next big growth area.

And, it seems, the Southwest 95th Street interchange is no longer a priority.

County Road 42 Bridge

The anticipated residential and commercial growth of Marion Oaks is one of the main reasons the 95th Street Southwest Interchange was removed from the Ocala Marion Transportation Planning Organization’s long-range plan, which extends until 2045.

Instead, a flyover or exit on County Road 42 / I-75 is now being considered.

The plan is to connect CR 42, which is in a cul-de-sac on the east side of I-75, to Marion Oaks Manor on the west side. Marion Oaks Manor crosses Marion Oaks and connects to Southwest 49th Avenue, a freeway parallel to the west side of I-75.

This Southwest 49th Avenue connector has been largely completed towards Southwest 66th Street and will be completed in a few years behind Market Street in Heath Brook. It will connect to the 42nd Street Flyover behind Sullivan Buick GMC.

Rob Balmes, the director of the local TPO, said the TPO board addressed a possible Southwest 95th Street interchange last fall.

“They just felt that at the moment it is not necessary to have it in the plan,” noted Balmes in a recent interview. “I know that some citizens have expressed the desire to abolish this project. The council therefore decided (last September) to abolish the project. “

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One point that officials have made is that traffic is a serious problem on I-75.

“There are about 100,000 cars a day” that pass through Ocala on I-75, Balmes said.

A 95th Street southwest interchange would mean people in the southwest corridor could hop onto I-75 to avoid SR 200 and increase traffic on I-75. Southwest 49th Avenue Freeway provides residents with a direct route without interfering with I-75.

Industrial park may need an exit

Once the Florida Crossroads Industrial Park builds its 1,000 acres, hundreds of 18-wheel vehicles would be able to take Marion Oaks Manor to the CR 42 interchange every day. These trucks could then head north or south on I-75, preventing them from leaving the crowded CR 484.

At a TPO directors meeting in September, County Commissioner Carl Zalak discussed the Marion Oaks overpass, also known as the flyover.

Zalak said the group needed to determine “the spacing for new businesses planning to be there would be beneficial,” the meeting minutes said.

Zalak, along with other TPO board members, wanted to explore adding an I-75 interchange to CR 42, especially if the overflight is ultimately paid for by the state. Zalak wanted to add hover or swap to the long term project.

Commissioner Kathy Bryant said, according to the meeting minutes, “an interchange would look different from an overpass” and wanted to have further discussions.

“The TPO board has called for the 95th Street interchange project to be removed” from the long-term plan, the meeting minutes said.

Balmes said in a recent interview that the plan is updated every five years, with the next coming in 2025. He said circumstances may change and the board may review all options.

It is not uncommon for a project to give up, only to be reinstated in future plans.

Buy it and they can come

John Rudnianyn is sort of a land speculator. He is working with clients to purchase a property that he believes will end up in prime locations in the near future. The idea is to invest in the land and sell it for a profit in a few years.

Rudnianyn has worked in real estate for decades and was even a member of the Non-Voting, Non-Commitment Citizens Advisory Council for 30 years. He owns International Property Services Corp.

The chatty real estate expert sometimes joins deals as a partner and has an interest in many acres east of I-75, where the 95th Street southwest interchange was intended to cross.

He spoke about the need for this exchange and believes that it will be added to the TPO plan again in the near future.

He pointed out that tens of thousands of houses are expected to be built in the National Highway 200 triangle over the next seven years. This does not include 25,000 undeveloped residential lots in Marion Oaks.

“There is no exit for nine miles from State Road 200 to County Road 484,” Rudnianyn said. “The 95th Street southwest interchange would be 4.5 miles, exactly halfway.”

Another big reason he thinks there is a need to create a 95th Street Southwest interchange, or at the very least a flyover, is to facilitate east-west traffic.

Many people in Belleview, for example, have to drive north on US 441, then west on the ring road to 42nd Street Flyover to get to SR 200.

There are a lot of side roads, but only on CR 484, Southwest 66th Street, and the 42nd Street Flyover can cross I-75 to the SR 200 corridor. This Southwest 95th Street connection would be a critical way to get there. ‘across I-75, he said.

“You have 50,000 cars a day driving on Pine Avenue,” he noted. “Southwest 49th Avenue is going to ease traffic west of I-75 and limit traffic on I-75, but that doesn’t solve the problem of direct access to State Road 200.”

Ultimately, all real estate transactions are a risk. Sometimes a person has to hold their property longer than expected to make a profit. At the time, the property just east of I-75, where the 95th Street exit was intended, seemed like a sure thing.

“I really plan ahead, very far,” he noted. “And so we buy land and sometimes something happens there and sometimes it doesn’t. I just have to believe there’s going to be a Southwest 95th Street interchange someday. I really do.”

Joe Callahan can be reached at (352) 817-1750 or email him at joe.callahan@starbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoeOcalaNews.