FORT MYERS /Florida Newswire/ — Governor Charlie Crist today applauded the successful completion of the Interstate-75 Road Expansion Project (iROX) at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new third southbound lane at the I-75/Daniels Parkway rest area. Six lanes of I-75 in the 30-mile stretch from the Golden Gate Parkway interchange in Collier County to the Colonial Boulevard interchange in Lee County will also open this evening, a year earlier than initially projected and six years ahead of schedule.

“Efficient completion of construction projects is crucial to Florida’s transportation system,” Governor Crist said. “Accelerated projects save taxpayers’ money, as well as reduce congestion and keeps industry and commerce moving forward. I am impressed by the outstanding work of the iROX team.”

The project is also making improvements to the I-75/Immokalee interchange in Collier County and completion by April 2010 is anticipated. iROX is the largest single construction contract ever awarded by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The project cost an estimated $430.5 million and is part of the FDOT’s new design/build/finance (DBF) approach to road building. The DBF strategy offers an incentive to contractors for finishing projects ahead of schedule.

The DBF approach – the first in Florida’s history – allowed construction crews to work alongside areas of the project that were still under design. When started in October 2007, the I-75 improvements were expected to be completed five years ahead of schedule. In reality, the expansion has been completed six years sooner than expected.

The Governor was joined at the ribbon cutting ceremony by Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp, State Senator Garrett Richter, State Representative Gary Aubuchon and Stann Cann, district secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation.