WESLEY CHAPEL — It's open.
Drivers can now take State Road 56 east past the Shops at Wiregrass and turn onto Mansfield Boulevard in the Meadow Pointe community.
Crews opened the road quietly at 5 p.m. Friday, said Deborah Bolduc, the county's engineering services program administrator.
The opening came three days before classes resumed for Pasco County public schools, of which two campuses, John Long Middle and Wiregrass Ranch High, are off Mansfield Boulevard.
It's been a long time coming for the first leg of the road, which is supposed to ultimately link to Meadow Pointe Boulevard this fall.
The promised opening date for the first leg was last October when the Shops at Wiregrass opened, but disputes with the developers and most recently Tampa Electric Co. over who would pay to move utility poles held up the project.
Also delaying the project were state-required intersection improvements that had not been completed. But officials with the state Department of Transportation later said they would look for a temporary fix to ensure the intersection at SR 56 and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard would function properly so the highway could open before school starts.
County officials have said the expansion is critical in order to give drivers on State Road 54 an alternate route when crews begin widening that highway.
The 3-mile extension is being built by Locust Branch LLC and Meadow Pointe IV Community Development District.
Lisa Buie can be reached at (813) 909-4604 or firstname.lastname@example.org.