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Road projects will mean continued inconveniences for motorists

A 6-mile section of Cortez Boulevard is being widened from four to six lanes, creating delays and frustration for motorists. The project, which also includes new traffic signals, a sidewalk and a multiuse path, is not expected to be completed until the middle of next year. It is one of several projects that will snarl traffic in Hernando County.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

A 6-mile section of Cortez Boulevard is being widened from four to six lanes, creating delays and frustration for motorists. The project, which also includes new traffic signals, a sidewalk and a multiuse path, is not expected to be completed until the middle of next year. It is one of several projects that will snarl traffic in Hernando County.

When Dennis Dix takes his morning ride from his home in Spring Hill to his office at the Hernando County Government Center in Brooksville, he avoids Cortez Boulevard.

He takes an alternate route on his way home as well.

That's because as the county's transportation coordinator, Dix gets too frustrated with the discombobulated signal system, which lost its coordinated operations when the road-widening project began.

"The timing (of the lights) is just horrible,'' he said.

Hernando motorists who have lost patience with barricades, closed lanes or sitting through multiple lights to get through an intersection need to take another deep breath because there's much more road construction to come.

Started in October 2012, the 6-mile stretch of Cortez between U.S. 19 and the Suncoast Parkway is being widened from a four-lane to a six-lane divided highway. DAB Constructors is the contractor.

Also included in the work are a new sidewalk on the north side of the road between U.S. 19 and the parkway and a new multiuse path on the south side of the road between U.S. 19 and Wiscon Road.

The contractor is also replacing numerous traffic signals and light poles with new hurricane-resistant models and some median changes have been worked into the nearly $40 million project. Paving Cortez from the Suncoast Parkway to Wiscon Road is also a part of the work.

The estimated completion is mid 2015.

For those who live and travel U.S. 19 north of Weeki Wachee, work to repave the highway from Cortez Boulevard to the Hernando/Citrus county line is ahead of schedule. The work started early last year.

New sidewalks are also part of that $15 million job, which is now expected to be done by the end of the year, if not sooner, said Kris Carson, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Transportation. The sidewalks are planned for the west side of the road between Cortez and Vespa Way, across from Weeki Wachee High School, and on the east side between Cortez and Amity Avenue.

Another repaving project in the Brooksville area will soon be wrapping up, Carson said.

In May work began to repave Jefferson Street between Cortez and N Mildred Avenue. The $2.5 million job includes new 5-foot sidewalks along both sides of the road between Cortez and Southeast Avenue and repair of sidewalks between Southeast and Mildred.

Work on the Suncoast Parkway that began last year is expected to be completed this summer, according to Christa Deason, spokeswoman for Florida Turnpike Enterprise.

The work originally was just a resurfacing of the entire parkway through the county, but the state then decided to combine the project with the building up and reconstruction of the northern terminus of the highway at U.S. 98 and expansion of the existing drainage pond at that location.

The project has a $20 million price tag.

Construction on the first Hernando County portion of the six-laning of Interstate 75 is expected to begin in the fall. That $38 million project has a 750-day construction contract.

Soon after that work begins, the state will let a contract on the next phase, which will include the completion of the six-laning to Sumter County, reconstruction of the bridges over Croom-Rital Road and the Withlacoochee River, as well as the reconstruction of the interchange at I-75 and Cortez.

The project is expected to cost $86 million.

The top project on the five-year work program of the Hernando County Metropolitan Planning Organization is six-laning Cortez Boulevard from Lockhart Road to McKethan Road on either side of the new I-75 interchange.

The timing for that work has not yet been decided.

Other ongoing neighborhood construction work includes numerous limerock road paving projects throughout Royal Highlands.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

Road projects will mean continued inconveniences for motorists 04/01/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 5:10pm]
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