SPRING HILL — Travel along a portion of U.S. 19 in Hernando County will become a bit more challenging in the coming months as a major repaving project gets under way Monday.
D.A.B. Constructors Inc. will repave 3.7 miles of the highway from County Line Road to Toucan Trail and also make a number of improvements along the stretch.
Sidewalks will be built on the west side of the highway for the entire length of the project and on the east side from County Line Road to Applegate Drive. Bike lanes will be added using existing pavement, said Dennis Dix, the county's transportation coordinator.
Also, as part of the Florida Department of Transportation project, a second left-turn lane will be added on southbound U.S. 19 for vehicles turning east onto County Line. Lighting on both sides of the road from County Line to Spring Hill Drive is planned.
Lane closures will be needed during construction work and could happen either during the day or at night, according to DOT spokeswoman Kris Carson.
Work is expected to be completed next summer.
D.A.B. Constructors has a $6.7 million construction contract for the job. The total project cost, including engineering and support services, is $9.27 million. The state originally had budgeted $18.7 million for the project, but Dix said many projects have been coming in lately far below estimates.
Additional repaving of U.S. 19 north of Weeki Wachee is scheduled for 2012, Dix said.
The next major road project for the county will be the extensive widening of Cortez Boulevard.
Officials announced recently that the DOT had moved up funding for that work, allowing a critical leg of the long-awaited six-laning of Cortez to begin years earlier than expected.
The first section, from U.S. 19 to Mariner Boulevard, was set for construction in 2013, but expanding the highway from Mariner to the Suncoast Parkway was considered by state transportation officials as a candidate for funding no earlier than 2025.
County officials were recently told the segment will now be constructed at the same time as the first leg, which has also been bumped up a year. That means construction could begin late next year.
Plans to resurface the existing four lanes of Cortez from the parkway east to Wiscon Road also have been bumped up a year to 2012.
The entire project, from Wiscon to U.S. 19, is 6.1 miles.
The DOT cost estimate for the improvements is $9 million for design, $9.6 million for purchasing right of way and $66.5 million for construction.
The project includes not only the widening of Cortez from four to six lanes, but also sidewalks, a shared-use path, bicycle lanes and highway lighting.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.