By Kyle LoJacono
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will unveil its proposals for widening the Veterans Expressway at a public meeting on April 10.
FDOT will be expanding the toll road between Memorial and Gunn highways during the next five years. Department project manager Paul Naranjo said they have some proposals that will be presented at the meeting, which is at the Perrone Recreation Center, 5120 Kelly Road in Tampa, starting at 5 p.m.
“It’s going to be conducted as an informal open house,” Naranjo said. “We’re going to have maps, and other relevant information available for the public to see.”
Representatives from the Florida Turnpike will be there to answer questions and address concerns about the project.
All the proposals will widen the Veterans from four to eight lanes while resurfacing the existing roadway and adding sound barrier walls to reduce noise in the communities along the highway.
The tollbooths will also be converted from cash collection stations to ones that either deduct money from a SunPass account or send drivers a monthly bill for their use of the highway.
It is the first time the Veterans is being widened since it was opened 1998. FDOT has allocated $231.85 million to complete the job, which includes construction, land purchases, design/engineering and addressing environmental concerns. The major roadwork is scheduled to begin in 2015.
The daily traffic along the construction zone is between 51,000 and 63,000. Naranjo said that total has been increasing steadily during the last few years, making the widening project necessary.
Naranjo added FDOT has plans to expand the Veterans to the Van Dyke Road exit, its northern terminus, as well as the Suncoast Parkway through Pasco County, but neither project has a set timetable or significant funding.
For additional information, call the Florida Turnpike office at (800) 749-7453 or visit www.dot.state.fl.us.