RIVERVIEW — Residents and commuters are thrilled to hear the construction project to widen Boyette Road from Riverview to Lithia will soon be over and they will be driving on two lanes in each direction instead of one.
"Thank goodness," said Rich Benedict, a resident of FishHawk Ranch in Lithia. "It seems like it has taken forever to get it done."
Traffic should flow on all four lanes of the revamped Boyette Road by the end of this month, according to county officials.
John Lyons, public works director for Hillsborough County, said only weather issues, such as heavy rains, could alter that timetable for the project to widen Boyette from two to four lanes.
"They can't pave in the rain," he said. "The target is the end of the month."
Lyons said construction of a pair of two-lane bridges over Bell Creek is done. He said crews still need to pave about 3 miles of roadway and add pavement markings. Once the road is opened to four lanes, crews will stay behind for several weeks to finish minor details.
The widening of the 4-mile stretch of Boyette Road between U.S. 301 and Bell Shoals Road began in 2005. The county split the project into three parts, the last of which is the 1 ½-mile stretch from McMullen Road to Bell Shoals.
The project also included retention ponds, a stormwater system, property acquisition, sidewalks, bike lanes, dedicated turn lanes and landscaped medians.
Lyons is aware that motorists have suffered long waits in traffic, especially during rush hour, for years. He said officials had hoped to finish the project much earlier but had some problems, such as difficulty with utility relocation underground.
"Things have happened," he said. "No one more than me wants to be finished."
Boyette is a major route for drivers who live in Riverview and FishHawk Ranch. Many use Boyette to reach Interstate 75 and their jobs in Tampa. Adding to the congestion is the traffic from several schools, two of which were recently built on Boyette near Bell Shoals.
To further help traffic flow, the county installed a traffic light outside Valrico and Bell Creek academies, charter schools that opened in 2011 and 2013, respectively, for elementary through high school students.
Stephanie Benedict must use Boyette to travel to Brandon and Tampa for her job as a genetic counselor. She sits in slow-moving traffic 30 to 40 minutes to drive just a few miles to reach I-75.
Benedict calls it an awful commute. News that she and others will soon see an end to bumper-to-bumper traffic along Boyette made her smile.
"It'll be great," said the FishHawk resident. "I look forward to it just moving."
Lyons said the two-lane road has been insufficient for the volume of traffic in the area for years.
"This project absolutely needed to be done," he said.