RIVERVIEW — Washboard roads. Construction barriers. Closed turn lanes. Lane shifts.
For the 24,000 drivers a day who navigate the construction zone on Boyette Road near Riverview High School, the question is simple: When is it all going to end?
Not as soon as promised, according to a county spokesman.
Construction on the segment between Balm Riverview Road and Donneymoor Drive won't end until February — about three months past the original November completion date. The road widening got more complicated when retention ponds had to be added because property changed hands and a development in the area got scratched, county spokesman Steve Valdez said.
On top of that, other factors — a confluence of utility lines in the area and construction space that was limited by rights of way — slowed the work.
"It's definitely been a challenge for us just as much as it has been for drivers," Valdez said. "It's also been uncommonly difficult with the inordinate number of activities from (utility and cable lines in the area)."
Joe Hastings, who commutes from FishHawk Ranch to MacDill Air Force Base, said he does his best to avoid Boyette Road by using Lumsden Road instead. On Wednesdays, though, he doesn't have a choice: His kids have religious education classes at St. Stephen Catholic School on Boyette Road.
"It's terrible trying to get in and out of the (school) parking lot. I have friends who won't even shop in the area because of the congestion," he said.
Even when construction ends early next year, commuters will have a different kind of headache. Workers will move their equipment farther east on Boyette Road for phase two — a $35.2-million job to widen the road from two lanes to four between Donneymoor Drive to Bell Shoals Road that's scheduled to last until mid 2010.
That phase, Valdez said, should be less problematic than the current job.
When all the work is finished, Boyette Road will have sidewalks, pedestrian features with sidewalk crossings, dedicated turn lanes, bike lanes, landscaped medians and generous road shoulders.
As for the area where Boyette Road turns into FishHawk Boulevard, residents met last month with the officials from Newland Communities, the developer of FishHawk Ranch and the proposed Lake Hutto community.
A proposed $71-million project would widen six miles of FishHawk Boulevard between Bell Shoals and Lithia Pinecrest roads.
"There is no question that there is a need for this," said Robert Berkowitz, project manager for CPH Engineers Inc., which is working with Newland. "It takes 10 to 15 minutes just to get through the intersection at Bell Shoals and FishHawk."
By 2030, FishHawk Boulevard will carry 37,200 vehicles a day, according to planners' estimates.