TAMPA — In a ceremony that at times sounded like a campaign stump speech, Gov. Rick Scott stopped by the Department of Transportation's Tampa offices on Thursday to announce the start of two widening projects on Interstate 75 that he said will create jobs and boost the local economy.
The projects, both in Pasco County, will run concurrently and start at nearly the same time. Together, they'll cost about $117 million.
The first is set to begin April 14 and run from just north of State Road 52 to the Pasco-Hernando county line. The second, which is more complicated because it also involves the reconstruction of the SR 52 interchange, will begin May 27 and run from County Road 54 to north of SR 52.
"This highway improvement is key to stimulating the local economy as well as helping to create jobs and opportunities," the governor said from a conference room at the DOT offices.
Driving home that point, Scott introduced a foreman from Granite Construction Inc., Guillermo Rosario, who joined him on the podium.
"If it wasn't for this project, Guillermo would have been laid off after the completion of the Selmon Expressway project," Scott said. "He depends on his job to support his family, which includes his wife and three children. Advance projects like this one are truly helping to create more jobs and opportunities for families like Guillermo's."
The ceremony lasted about 15 minutes and included remarks from the department's District 7 secretary, Paul Steinman, and Pasco County Commissioner Henry Wilson, who called the project "a win-win-win" for Pasco that will benefit commuters, employers and tourists.
Pasco drivers can expect to see orange barrels, traffic cones and uneven surfaces for the next two to three years.
The projects will start as a $96 million widening that is already under way between Fowler Avenue in Hillsborough and SR 56. In the end, the entire 14-mile stretch through Pasco will be widened from four lanes to six and add new on- and off-ramps at SR 52.
Together, all three projects will run between two and three years.
Rich Shopes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6236.