BRANDON — Drivers anxiously maneuvering through construction of four major area road projects can see completion on the horizon.
The project closest to being finalized is the Gornto Lake Road extension near Westfield Brandon. Hillsborough County is just a couple weeks away from completing the road, a project first conceived in the mid 1990s to add another north-south corridor between State Road 60 and Lumsden Road.
The construction should improve traffic in the area and relieve congestion at the interstate access and the shopping mall, said Steve Valdez, public works spokesman for Hillsborough County. The mall's main entrance at State Road 60 and Grand Regency Boulevard has long been one of the busiest and most dangerous intersections in the county.
"The Brandon area desperately needs another north-south connector roadway," Valdez said. "During holiday time and shopping season, it's quite typical to have the traffic back up onto the exit for the interstate trying to get into the mall."
Drivers on Causeway Boulevard will have another way to reach State Road 60 by going north on Gornto Lake from U.S. 301 and avoid slicing through mall access roads to reach the highway.
The new roadway, which cost nearly $4 million, is set to be completed in the beginning of August, finishing two months ahead of schedule, Valdez said.
"This is what happens when you can build a road on virgin territory and not have to maintain traffic," Valdez said. "It's like night and day."
The county has had to maintain traffic during its four-year project to widen Boyette Road from its existing two lanes to a four-lane divided highway. The project, now entering its final year, will include bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides, relocation of major utilities, drainage improvements, landscaped medians, mast arm traffic signals and signing and pavement markings. It also includes the reconstruction of the bridge over Bell Creek.
"The flow of traffic east and west in that area is tremendous, so this provided an alternative," Valdez said.
Meanwhile, Seffner and Dover residents have watched traffic get bogged down on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. In June 2012, the state Department of Transportation launched a project to widen MLK between Highview Road and Parsons Avenue and extending east toward Kingsway Road.
The widening will add four lanes with a center left-turn lane, spokeswoman Kris Carson said. The construction also includes adding sidewalks on both sides of the road and replacing the poles and signals with new hurricane-resistant ones at Highview Road, Pine Street and Parsons Avenue.
The widening project has now added two lanes from the west end to Taylor Road, and the drainage and utility work is almost complete, Carson said.
The contractor is working on completing the north side and then will switch to the south side. The project is on schedule to be completed in the fall.
A DOT repaving project is taking place on MLK stretching between Interstate 4 and Laura Street.
The contractors are also installing a new sidewalk on the south side of the road and new highway lighting between Interstate 4 and Falkenburg Road on the south side of the road and between Carway Drive and Laura Street on the north side of the road.
The median reconstruction is complete, and minor drainage work is almost finished, Carson said. Lighting, resurfacing and other work must be finished before the projected spring completion date.
Caitlin Johnston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2443.