Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

East-west connector likely a no-go

NEW TAMPA — Drivers beleaguered by the syrupy pace of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard got a mixed bag of news Monday at a roads conclave focusing on New Tampa.

• The $42-million flyover under construction at Bruce B. Downs and Interstate 75 should open to traffic by late summer, well ahead of schedule.

• Funding problems may doom a $155-million east-west expressway, the long-planned link between Bruce B. Downs and Interstate 275.

• Similar problems won't block the widening of Bruce B. Downs through Tampa Palms, at least not permanently. "We will get the funding for that," pledged Ken Hagan, chairman of the Hillsborough County Commission and a county transportation task force. "It will just take additional time."

Construction to eight-lane another stretch of Bruce B. Downs, between Tampa Palms and Pebble Creek, is funded and scheduled to start next year.

The flyover has been New Tampa's most visible construction project since last year. It will carry each morning's biggest cluster of traffic — heading from southbound Bruce B. Downs to southbound I-75 — soaring over the interstate, then merging onto it. Currently, these drivers must wait for a left-turn signal.

The Florida Department of Transportation's contract with PCL Civil Constructors calls for completion by next spring. But PCL is aiming to finish this year and open the flyover to traffic this summer, said DOT spokesman John McShaffrey.

"There is an early completion bonus," McShaffrey said.

He said work that can be completed after the flyover opens would include closing the old entrance ramp and finishing some of the new ones.

The east-west expressway, a 3-mile toll road that would relieve Bruce B. Downs, may fall victim to projections that its round-trip tolls could reach $6 within the first decade of operation. The road's expected construction costs soared in recent years as engineers concluded some 40 percent of the road would have to be elevated above protected wetlands next to the county's Cypress Creek Preserve.

Plenary Group, an international consortium selected a year ago to build the road privately, was asked to lower its toll schedule. But it stuck by those numbers last month in a memo to the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority.

"It doesn't seem to be a good business deal," said Mayor Pam Iorio, who convened Monday's meeting in New Tampa. "It doesn't seem to be viable."

Over the years, the city of Tampa acquired $4-million in property for the road. Iorio said officials should consider the project for a month or two longer, then "bring it to closure."

Hagan, who lived in New Tampa for 13 years, said "I hate to see it go down in flames like this."

But fellow Commissioner Rose Ferlita said it wasn't realistic.

"We just have to move on and quit giving people false hope," she said.

Bill Coats can be reached at (813) 269-5309 or coats@sptimes.com.

East-west connector likely a no-go 05/05/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2008 3:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Evening update: Tropical Storm Harvey forms in Atlantic, second wave follows

    Hurricanes

    UPDATE: At 8 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  2. Trump 'beautiful statues' tweets roil Tampa Bay's own Confederate debate

    National

    It started Thursday at 9:07 a.m., as it does so often these days, with a tweet:

    The Memoria in Aeterna Confederate monument stands in front of the old Hillsborough County Courthouse. Hillsborough County Commissioners voted 4-2 last month to move it to a private cemetery in Brandon before voting again this week to put a deadline on a public sector fundraising campaign to pay part of the cost. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a case for urgency before Thursday's game, in both actions and words, making significant changes to the structure of the lineup and sincere comments about time running short.

    Trevor Plouffe of the Rays reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. [Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]
  4. Spanish PM voices solidarity with Barcelona

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country is mourning in solidarity with the city of Barcelona and other cities in Europe that have been hit by deadly extremist attacks.

    An injured person is treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. [Associated Press]
  5. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand

    Bucs

    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]