Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday directed $4 million to speed work on a new Interstate 75 interchange that will accommodate the planned third Buc-ee’s convenience store and gas station in Florida.
Before tossing bags of Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets to the audience, DeSantis announced money will go from the state’s Job Growth Grant Fund to the city of Ocala and the Florida Department of Transportation to increase the pace of work on the interchange.
“I was like, I don’t know what the normal schedule is, but I think the sooner that people are able to go to Buc-ee’s, the better. So, why don’t we try to step on the gas,” DeSantis said during an appearance at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion in Ocala.
The Texas-based Buc-ee’s recently announced plans for an 80,000-square-foot facility, with 120 gas pumps and 750 parking spaces, just north of Ocala along I-75. The opening has been tied to the completion of the interchange, which had been tentatively scheduled for late 2025.
Buc-ee’s already has stores along Interstate 95 in Daytona Beach and St. Augustine.
DeSantis said the interchange will also assist the World Equestrian Center in Ocala. DeSantis has discretion to use money from the Job Growth Grant Fund for regional infrastructure and job-training programs.
In proposed budgets for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, the House would set aside $25 million for the fund and the Senate would provide $75 million. The fund received $50 million in the current 2022-2023 fiscal year, and DeSantis requested $100 million for 2023-2024.