By Kyle LoJacono
The two-year long project to add a bridge between New Tampa and Commerce Park boulevards has begun, giving drivers hope of less congested roadways in the future.
The $14 million project is connecting both streets, which currently dead end on opposite sides of I-75 in New Tampa. The job will add a bridge to allow drivers to pass over the interstate, allowing residents of Tampa Palms and the surrounding neighborhoods to reach either Freedom High school without using Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.
The project is funded by the Tampa City Council and is being performed by Prince Contracting. Jim Hudock, contract administrator for the city council, said the job has been in the works for several years.
“The city council has wanted to build this bridge for years to take people off Bruce B. Downs, which is heavily congested,” Hudock said. “It will also save New Tampa residents time if they are getting around the area.”
Hudock said there had been fighting for years by the several neighborhood groups that opposed the bridge because “they believed it would make the roadways more dangerous with the increase in traffic.”
Tampa Palms attorney Warren Dixon even sued the city to stop the project, but he no longer opposes it. He dropped the suit after getting assurances safety measures, like low speed limits, will be followed. Such limits have not yet been finalized.
The new roadway will be two-lanes wide and about 0.7 miles long. It is being built with enough space to allow it to expand to four lanes. The project also includes adding bike lanes and sidewalks.
The project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2013, nearly a year after the current Hillsborough County widening project of Bruce B. Downs is finished. That fact also helped reduce concerns by the community, as people traveling through New Tampa will not be able to use the bridge as a way to avoid construction.
For more information on the project, visit www.tampagov.net/dept_transportation.