Commissioner Coletta urges wildlife officials to support Estates I-75 interchange

Should there be an I-75 interchange at Everglades Boulevard?

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— Collier County Commissioner Jim Coletta appealed to state wildlife authorities today for support of an interchange along Alligator Alley, pointing to research and public demand for the controversial road project.

Speaking before the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Coletta said his constituents in Golden Gate Estates have been calling for a shortcut route to Interstate 75 for years but have faced resistance from environmental groups.

“We've gone through numerous studies and put a lot of money … to come to a point where we'd be able to pass muster with all the different agencies,” he said.

Coletta drew criticism for his tactics last month when his office urged 200 supporters to attend a meeting about the interchange in Golden Gate Estates, a political move his detractors called “highly inappropriate.”

This morning, Coletta spoke briefly about the interchange before the commission opened the floor for discussion of items not on the agenda. By the afternoon lunch break, opposition groups had not had a chance to respond.

Coletta said a ramp onto I-75 from Everglades Boulevard would have “minimal effects” on the environment, but groups including the Florida Wildlife Federation have said wildlife habitat would be lost if construction goes forward.

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