The I-75 Expansion (iROX) project is 30 miles in length; it widened I-75 from 4 to 6 lanes, reconstructed 20 bridges, and constructed 4 new bridges, several noise barriers, and stormwater management facilities. The project was the first design-build-finance project in the state, and the Florida’s largest-ever project completed at the time.
Project Type:Widening Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:98,964 Length (mi):30.00
Economic Distress:0.65 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):525 Population Growth Rate (%):3.99
Employment Growth Rate (%):4.77 Market Size:758,627 Airport Travel Distance:2.7 Topography:1
Region:Southeast State:FL County:Collier and Lee Counties
City:Fort Myers, Naples, Bonita Springs Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:City N/A
Impact Area:Collier and Lee Counties Transportation System:N/A GIS Lat/Long:26.438462 / -81.779924
Initial Study Date:2006 Post Constr. Study Date:2015
Constr. Start Date:2007 Constr. End Date:2010
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2010 Planned Cost (YOE $):430,500,000
Actual Cost (YOE $):458,000,000 Actual Cost (curr $):486,982,980
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||7.68||4.39||12.07|
|Output (in $M's)||25.52||14.12||39.64|
Interstate 75 (I-75) is part of the Interstate Highway System and runs from just north of Miami on the southern end, to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on the northern end. The original highway, from the Tampa area northward, was built as part of the Interstate Highway plan in the 1950s. The southern portion was built to accommodate the growth in southern Florida and was completed in 1993. This case study focuses on the expansion of I-75 in Collier and Lee counties along the Gulf Coast of Florida. The I-75 expansion (iROX) project is 30 miles in length. This project widened I-75 from 4 to 6 lanes, reconstructed 20 bridges, and constructed four new bridges, several noise barriers, and stormwater management facilities. The project was the first design-build-finance project in the state. In 2007 when the contract was awarded, it was Fthe largest-ever highway construction contract in the state’s history.
Congestion concerns, most prevalent during the tourism industry’s busy season, primarily drove the project. The region was profoundly impacted by the 2008 recession, and much of the post-project job creation is closely linked to the post-recession economic resurgence. The I-75 Expansion project was built between 2007 and 2010, cost approximately $487M (in 2013 dollars), and it is estimated that the project alone attracted 180 jobs to the corridor, primarily in the restaurant and warehousing industries.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
Interstate 75 (I-75) in Florida runs from just west of Miami across the state through “Alligator Alley” and the Florida Everglades, and up the Gulf Coast before turning northeast and exiting the state. The total length of I-75 in Florida is 471 miles. Through southwest Florida, the highway travels in a north-south direction, and parallels the Gulf Coast, passing near major cities such as Naples and Fort Myers before continuing north toward the Tampa Bay Area.
The 30-mile I-75 iROX expansion project stretches through Collier and Lee Counties in Southwest Florida. The Southwest Florida International Airport is located just a few miles east of this stretch of I-75 to the south of Fort Meyers. The Southwest Florida International Airport is served by 14 airlines and was visited by 8.6 million passengers in 2016. The public transportation systems in both Collier and Lee Counties include bus service that runs seven days a week, CAT and LeeTran, respectively. This area is also served by the Seminole Gulf Railway, a freight and passenger excursion railway that runs south from Arcadia in Florida’s DeSoto County to North Naples, with stops in Fort Meyers, Estero, and Bonita Springs.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
The focus of this case study is the 30-mile portion of I-75 in southwest Florida that runs through Collier and Lee counties and stretches roughly from Naples north through Fort Myers. This region of Florida, along the Gulf Coast in the southwestern part of the state, is known primarily for its tourism industry. The Gulf Coast’s beaches are a primary attraction, as well as water parks such as Sun-N-Fun in Naples, which was recently voted one of the top 25 water parks in the U.S. Lee County also hosts many youth and adult sports events, including tournaments and national championships.
Agriculture and construction are major industries in the region as well; historically, agriculture was the most prominent sector. Major crops in the area include citrus, vegetables, and sugarcane. The area experiences high levels of congestion, particularly during the winter—tourism’s busy season—roughly Thanksgiving to Easter. The number of commuters increased steadily from 2000-2006, before decreasing by 10-15% during the Great Recession in 2008. From 2006 (the year prior to the construction of the I-75 iROX expansion) to 2015, the population of Collier and Lee counties combined increased from 885,993 to 1,059,287 (+19.6%), while employment and per capita income increased from 507,465 to 560,332 (+10.4%) and from $51,133 to $56,014 (+9.5%), respectively. Over this same period, the population of Florida increased from 18,089,889 to 19,645,772 (+8.6%), employment increased from 10,400,599 to 11,287,608 (+8.5%), and per capita income increased from $38,738 to $44,487 (+14.8%).
Construction of the $487 million (in 2013 dollars) project began in October 2007 and was completed in phases to allow for the overlap of design and construction. The project widening from four to six lanes was completed in December 2009. The final piece, the I-75/Immokalee Road Interchange, was completed in September 2010. The widening was completed a full year ahead of schedule, and the I-75/Immokalee Road Interchange opened nine months early. Due to the addition of an incentive/disincentive clause in the contract for the project schedule, the contractor received a $15 million bonus for early completion, the maximum bonus allowable.
The project was procured as a design-build-finance (DBF) public-private partnership (P3). It was the first DBF procurement in Florida and was made possible through the amendment of P3 enabling legislation in 2004. This procurement methodology made it possible for the project to be completed in three years instead of eight years estimated under traditional procurement. The early completion was possible using the DBF procurement model, project incentives, and efforts to fast-track design and construction. The project was paid for through a combination of $340 million in federal funds, $81.6 million in State Growth Management (GMR) funds, $4.9 million in State Transportation Regional Incentive Program (TRIP) funds, $26.3 million in other state funds, and $4.9 million in local funds.
The primary motivation for the I-75 iROX expansion project was to relieve congestion along I-75. This area has high levels of congestion due in part to commuters traveling from Lee County to Collier County. Collier County imports much of its workforce from Lee County; currently 16,000 people commute from Lee County to Collier County daily. Additionally, traffic increases by approximately 20% during the tourism industry’s busy season.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
Cost of living is high in Collier County. Because of the shortage of affordable housing, many area residents live in Lee County and commute to Collier County. The I-75 Expansion (iROX) project relieved congestion along the portion of the corridor through Lee and Collier counties. Prior to construction, the area experienced high levels of congestion during peak periods. In 2008, prior to the completion of the iROX expansion, the daily level of service (LOS) along I-75 in Lee and Collier counties ranged from B to F. In 2010 and 2011, after the completion of the iROX expansion, no segment of I-75 in Lee and Collier Counties had a LOS lower than D, and most segments had an LOS of B or C. In 2015, all segments of I-75 in Lee and Collier counties had a daily level of service ranging from B to D. In 2006, prior to the completion of the I-75 iROX expansion project, annual average daily traffic (AADT) on I-75 was 56,478. After project completion in 2010, AADT was 67,723 and has continued to increase; AADT in 2016 was 98,964.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
Economic impacts were evaluated for Collier and Lee Counties, as well as the cities of Naples, Fort Myers, Estero, and Bonita Springs. Generally, the expansion has been positive for the industry in the area. Commercial industry, as well as residential projects, have developed along corridor interchanges; interviewees cited the White Lake Industrial Park in Naples directly off I-75. This 30-lot industrial park totals approximately 60 acres, and only 8 of these lots remain undeveloped. A wide variety of businesses use this industrial park for warehouse and storage space, including an elevator company, a fence company, grocery stores and restaurants. I-75 and its expansion was cited by developers as the primary reason for this industrial park; the expansion alone is estimated to have created approximately 103 jobs. In addition to this development, travel-related establishments, such as fast food restaurants, banks, and hotels, have filled in along the corridor interchanges – 42 jobs can be attributed directly to the project.
In 2013, Hertz announced that it was moving its worldwide headquarters from Park Ridge, New Jersey to Estero, Florida in Lee County. Approximately 700 jobs were relocated from the New Jersey headquarters to Lee County. This headquarters is adjacent to the northern end of the I-75 Expansion project corridor, along US-41. A press release states that Hertz chose Lee County as the location for its new headquarters due in part to its accessibility, as well as workforce availability and community appeal. According to interviewees, 5% of the jobs at Hertz can be attributed to the I-75 iROX expansion (35 jobs).
In total, 180 jobs created in Lee and Collier Counties since 2010 can be attributed to the iROX project.
Improvements to the Southwest Florida International Airport significantly contributed to the economic growth in the area; a new, award-winning terminal opened in 2005, and an extension to the airport’s main access road was completed in 2015. The recession of 2008 inhibited growth, but the economy of the region has seen significant growth as the national economy has rebounded, and the region’s tourism and construction industries have improved. No specific policies or incentives to encourage economic development were in place in Lee or Collier counties; the Economic Development Department in Lee County even shrank from 17 to 7 people after the Great Recession and has not yet increased its workforce.
Organization, Name, Title
Metric Engineering, Edwin Santana, Consultant Engineer
Lee County MPO, Don Scott, Director
Lee County Community Development, Dave Loveland, Director
FDOT, Jon Sands, District Construction Engineer
Collier County, David Weeks, Growth Management Plan Manager
Lee County Economic Development Office, Rachel Busch, Strategic Projects Manager
The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, Kristi Bartlett, Vice President, Economic Development
Power Corporation (Developer)
Case Study Developed by University of Maryland