County secures funding for next phase of NW 49th Street project for I-75 interchange


I-75 is shown on the left. Northwest 44th Avenue is on the right. On the east side of I-75 is the area were the new Buc-eeÕs will be built along with the 49th Street off ramp. It is shown Tuesday, July 25, 2023, in Ocala, [Alan Youngblood/Special to the Ocala Gazette]

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Posted June 5, 2024 | By Caroline Brauchler
caroline@ocalagazette.com

Editor’s Note: A misstatement of how much Tourist Development Tax is generated annually has been corrected in this article on 6/7.

Marion County has received funding necessary to purchase the land needed to begin road projects surrounding the future Interstate 75 interchange project at Northwest 49th Street.

Right of way acquisition for the west side of the Northwest 49th/35th Street project, from Northwest 70th Avenue to Northwest 44th Avenue, is underway and being funded by a $1 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation.

The entire project, including extending and building county roads to connect to the interchange, is anticipated to cost $121,279,072 in federal, state and local funds, according to the Ocala Marion Transportation Planning Organization.

The FDOT grant was approved by the Marion County commission on May 21 and adopted into the budget on June 4.

“The roadway will be a four-lane divided road with a grassed median, a sidewalk and multiuse path and will be 3.4 miles in length. This project will provide a critical link between the new I-75 at Northwest 49th Street interchange and the Northwest 80th/70th Avenue corridor in Marion County,” according to the grant.

The project involves constructing a new four-lane road from NW 70th Avenue west to where it meets the existing NW 49th Street; the existing section of NW 49th Street (approximately 0.5 miles) is to be widened from 2-lanes to 4-lanes the remainder of the length to NW 44th Avenue,” according to the county.

On the east side of I-75, Northwest 49th Street is also being extended to meet Northwest 35th Avenue to connect the county roadway to the new interchange.

Land needed to complete the project was also approved for purchase by the county at the May 21 county commission meeting.

The county bought a parcel of land in the Ocala Park Estates neighborhood from a private citizen for $60,000 plus closing costs. The parcel, at 4706 NW 60th Ter., is a quarter acre and lies between Northwest Highway 225A and Northwest 44th Avenue where the project will be constructed.

Several miles south on I-75, the county is also making advancements on another major project for the interstate—a gateway at the 42nd Street Flyover to mark the city of Ocala and Marion County. The aesthetic feature will portray the name of the city in the center, with Marion County’s logo on either side. The project is anticipated to be complete in early 2025.

Temporary lane closures due to construction will begin in the middle of the summer and will last through the fall, according to the county.

As construction progresses, residents and visitors will notice temporary lane closures on Interstate 75 to allow the construction team to work safely on the bridge over the interstate,” according to a county press release.

Another gateway will also be built near the site of the I-75 interchange at Northwest 49th Street, as the county expects massive amounts of tourists to commute through that area with the addition of the new Buc-ee’s superstore location at the east side of the interchange.

The gateway projects are funded by the Tourist Development Tax, also known as the “bed tax” which is collected on short-term rentals in Marion County.

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