Just in time for the holidays.
All three northbound lanes of Interstate 75 are opening Friday.
Throughout the day beginning at 9 a.m., iROX crews will be removing barrels blocking the third northbound lane just south of the Colonial Boulevard interchange as they work southward to the Golden Gate interchange, iROX spokesman Dave Parks said.
“This is yet another exciting milestone in iROX,” Parks said.
By Friday evening, all three northbound travel lanes and bridges in the 30-mile segment of I-75 will be open.
“We are very pleased that they have been able to do it right before what is traditionally a high travel holiday season,” Parks said.
Parks stressed the importance of motorists driving safely, and to be aware of the slow-moving operation, while more than a dozen crew members remove barriers from north to south on Friday.
“It’s going to be a big operation and we don’t want people to be surprised,” he said.
Jack Wert, the executive director of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the northbound lanes opening would help with traffic congestion, yet wouldn’t help much with tourism in Collier County.
“It’s the southbound lanes we need open,” Wert said. “That’s how people get here.”
Meanwhile, crews will continue laying friction course, the final layer of asphalt, on the southbound lanes.
As soon as the pavement is dry and completed, which is anticipated by the end of December or early January, the third southbound lane will open.
“That’s great. That will help us,” Wert said. “The sooner they can get them open the better.”
This time of the year, most of the visitors are drive-ins, but Wert said starting the beginning of next year, there will be heavy traffic from Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers.
The new northbound lanes on I-75 are about one year ahead of schedule, Parks said.
Yet, there is still work remaining to be done on Immokalee Road near the intersection. To relieve traffic, Parks said there would be a traffic sift to the southern side, which will happen in a few weeks.
When all of the work is done at Immokalee Road there will be 12 lanes of traffic.
The project’s contractors — Anderson Columbia Company Inc. and Ajax Paving Industries — could earn up to $15 million bonus for finishing construction ahead of the contracted completion date once the project is accepted by Florida Department of Transportation, Parks said.
The incentive is $100,000 for every day ahead of the contract deadline, up to a maximum of $15 million.
Based on the current schedule of construction, the contractors could earn the maximum bonus.
The entire project is increasing I-75 from four to six lanes between Colonial Boulevard in Lee County and Golden Gate Parkway in Collier County.
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Connect with Tracy X. Miguel at www.naplesnews.com/staff/tracy_x_miguel/