BRANDON — Traffic troubles near Westfield Brandon may soon improve thanks to a road project in the works for years.
Construction on an extension of Gornto Lake Road from Town Center Boulevard to State Road 60 could begin within the next three months, said John Lyons, director of the Hillsborough County public works department.
Once started, the project, which has a construction budget of $12.75 million, should take about a year to complete, Lyons said.
One goal of the extension: alleviate some of the traffic cutting through the mall.
"Completing the Gornto Lake Road extension will provide a traffic alternative for travelers going to State Road 60 or Causeway Boulevard," said Tara Martin, regional marketing director for Westfield, in a statement. "A good percentage of these travelers are not necessarily visiting the mall."
Last week, the Board of County Commissioners approved Westfield's request to rezone the mall for 180,000 square feet of future expansion that could include retail stores, offices or hotels. New construction could be located on vacant parcels or attached to the mall.
The approval included the transfer of a portion of Westfield property to serve as right-of-way on the extension project, Lyons said.
Acquiring the rest of the property needed for the road took some time, Lyons said, because the road travels through several properties.
The county had to purchase a portion of land owned by a nearby cemetery, said Anthony Haynes, of the county's real estate services department.
"It did not, as far as we know, impact any grave sites," Haynes said. "It is on the edge of the cemetery."
Once construction bids are in and all land acquisitions finalized, the rest of the project should go more quickly.
"We're not under traffic there, so we are going to go up through virgin territory," Lyons said.
Shelley Rossetter can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 661-2442.