Public meeting is Jan. 6
By Steve Lee
NEW TAMPA — As if it were not crowded enough, the main thoroughfare through New Tampa, which connects Pasco County commuters to residential and commercial developments in northern Hillsborough, is about to get a whole lot busier.
Construction delays and shifts in traffic patterns will soon be the norm on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard thanks to a road-widening project from four to eight lanes that is expected to last through the spring of 2013.
Funded by state and federal grants, the first two (B and C) of four phases begin soon after a public meeting on Jan. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wharton High cafeteria. The school is located at 20120 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
“We’re coming out just to provide an update for the project and to let (the public) know what to expect during construction,” said Patrick Murray, of the Hillsborough County communications department.
Public Works spokesman Steve Valdez said traffic counts currently are at 60,000 daily vehicle trips. That road was widened from two to four lanes in 1988 with numerous turn lanes and an overpass at I-75 added since.
Phases B and C call for widening to take place from Palm Springs Boulevard to Pebble Creek Drive. They are part of a plan to convert the road into eight lanes from Bearss Avenue to SR 54 in Wesley Chapel.
“We’ve got a four-lane divided highway that we’re going to be widening,” said Valdez, adding that the project “will last for approximately 1,000 days.”
Aside from the roadwork, plans call for landscaped medians, various turn lanes, bus bays, a sidewalk on the west side of the road and an asphalt path on the east side.
The first two phases of the project will cost $30 million, which came in about $10 million under budget.
“We came in under the estimate, and we can thank the economy for that,” Valdez said.
Similar costs below estimates are expected for phases A and D, Valdez noted.
Phase A, which will cover Bearss Avenue north to Tampa Palms, is currently projected at $104 million.
Phase D will extend from County Line Road to SR 54 in Wesley Chapel. Valdez said that part could cost closer to $30 million than the projected $40 million.