Direct Connect will significantly impact Southwest Florida's strengthening economy, which in turn, means a huge boost for Real Estate, Tourism and other various industries...
Southwest Florida Regional Airport originally opened on May 14, 1983 with one 8,400-foot runway. It wasn't until the following year that it started offering international flights, and in 1993, they not only changed the name to Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), but they also lengthened the runway by a few thousand feet to make it 12,000-feet. Today, RSW is one of the top 50 airports for passenger traffic and they host more than 15 different airlines. In 2005, they opened a brand new, state-of-the-art terminal.
During the airport's first full month of operation – June 1983 – they had 73,462 passengers walk through their doors. As an example of how much patient influx has increased over the years, in June 2014, they served 478,692 passengers. In 1984 during their first full year of operation, they welcomed 1,311,937 passengers, and in 2014, it was 7,970,493. To say that it's difficult to get to and from the airport in a timely fashion without a substantial amount of traffic headaches would be an understatement. Now, something is being done about it.
Get ready travelers to welcome the I-75 Direct Connect which is a plan that has been in the works for quite some time – since September 2012 – and it's finally set to open at exit 128 in March (and run until exit 131) at a cost of $54.1 million. Considering Governor Rick Scott's statements, it's no wonder many are finding the project such a great idea. He explained, “About 300,000 people moved here last year. Record tourism; 97.3 million tourists came to Florida last year, I think. This year, we’ll have record tourism again, that’s the fourth year in a row. Record tourism. You look at all the people coming down here buying second homes. Everybody just loves to be in Florida, especially this part of Florida.”
According to On The Go project details, travelers can take advantage of the new I-75 Direct Connect by “Using new northbound lanes parallel to I-75 south of the Alico Road interchange and new southbound lanes parallel to I-75 south of the Daniels Parkway interchange that bridges the interstate, traffic flows eastbound onto a becoming boulevard over Treeline Avenue/Ben Hill Griffin Parkway onto Terminal Access Road, the entrance to the airport.” The area between Alico Road and the Daniels Parkway will essentially turn into a four lane highway. When you're going to get back on the Interstate, you'll have the same direct access. One of the best aspects is that there will be no traffic lights so there's no stop and go.
So what does this major change by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) mean for travelers? It's going to help move everyone along more efficiently, help reduce traffic on the Interstate as well as local roads, help reduce travel time to get to and from the airport, help local businesses grown and thrive, and diminish the amount of headaches and level of stress travelers have previously had to deal with when navigating the area.
The I-75 Direct Connect project will be completed just in time for spring training in Florida. The Boston Red Sox spring training schedule gets underway at JetBlue Park at Fenway South – which is just ten minutes from the airport – as of Tuesday, March 3 where they'll go against the Northeastern Huskies. Also heading down to Florida are the Minnesota Twins for their spring training which will take place at Hammond Stadium. Games start on March 4 when they play the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The stadium is about 15-minutes from the airport. The Florida Senate President, Andy Gardiner, said, “Tourism is vitally important for all of Florida, and that is no more evident than right here in Southwest Florida. Thanks to Governor Scott and Secretary Boxold’s support, this project will help visitors get from the airport to their final destinations in a more efficient and easier way, ensuring that their visit gets off to a great start.”
Many are also hoping that the new I-75 Direct Connection is going to allow for more business when it comes to moving cargo and bringing in distribution centers, especially considering Lee County has no seaport although there are four ports within a 200 mile radius of the airport.
Of the project, the positive changes in Florida's development, and the governor, the FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold said, “Over the past four years, Florida has seen tremendous job growth. Under Governor Scott’s leadership, our state has added more than 728,000 private sector jobs. We know that continued investments in our transportation infrastructure create jobs and boosts economic development.”
While the new I-75 Direct Connect may seem relatively simple, it could mean big things not only for easing traffic congestion, but also when it comes to strengthening the economy, which in turn, means a huge boost for real estate, tourism, and various other industries.
Fort Myers home and condo prices are already on the rise, so if you're thinking of buying, there's no better time than now. You can get a great deal now and increase the chances of getting a fantastic return on your investment in the future, and in the meantime, you can use the property as a vacation home or even rent it out for some extra income coming in every month.
Have any questions about Fort Myers real estate? Feel free to give us a call!