WEST MELBOURNE — Land clearing and utility relocation work officially kicked off Tuesday on the $38.8 million Interstate 95 interchange at Ellis Road, which will provide a future direct route to the Orlando Melbourne International Airport passenger terminal.

“Right now, it can take 20 minutes to get to I-95 from the airport. Once this interchange is done — even before Ellis Road is (widened) — it’s going to drop down to maybe about 10 minutes. That’s huge,” said Cliff Graham, airport director of operations and maintenance.

“It’s a huge deal for our community, our region, the airport. It’s something that airlines want to know. They want to know how long is it going to take for our passengers to get onto I-95,” Graham said.

“To be able to shave 10 minutes off that time makes the airport more attractive,” he said.

Estimated completion date is spring 2021, said Jessica Ottaviano, Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

Orange barrels are in place along I-95, and large Florida Power & Light transmission poles are being relocated to the west. Heavy equipment operators are clearing the forest off the western end of Ellis Road.

Meanwhile, construction continues on two other Brevard County I-95 interchanges:

• Future St. Johns Heritage Parkway, north of Micco Road in Palm Bay ($26.8 million). Work started in February 2017, and the projected completion date is Jan. 26.

• Viera Boulevard in Viera ($16.7 million). Work started last November, and the projected completion date is May 14.

Though West Melbourne only has 22,089 residents, the Ellis Road project will become the city’s “strategic and invaluable third interchange,” West Melbourne City Manager Scott Morgan wrote in a Friday memo to city council members.

West Melbourne city limits also reach I-95 interchanges at Palm Bay Road (with the Hammock Landing shopping complex) and U.S. 192.

Read more at Florida Today.

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