NEW TAMPA — The cones are up, the pipes are out and the construction signals are blinking.
The widening of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard is under way.
The multimillion-dollar project, which has been years in the making, is showing signs of progress as motorists chug their way up and down the congested thoroughfare.
The most visible part of the four-segment project is from Palm Springs Boulevard in Tampa Palms to Pebble Creek Drive. This 3.4-mile stretch, Stage 2, is now littered with pipes and wires in the median — part of the necessary advance work by TECO, Peoples Gas and Verizon to relocate their lines and install new ones before construction to widen the road begins.
Stage 2, which will transform Bruce B. Downs into four lanes in each direction and feature dual turn lanes and right turn lanes, is scheduled to last three years. When completed in 2012, it promises to provide much needed relief to the congested artery, said project manager Reg Alford of Hillsborough County's Public Works department.
Hillsborough County hopes to put the project out for bid about mid May and plans to see actual construction start in August, Alford said.
Two lanes in both directions will remain open during the work, but construction will go on during daylight hours.
"Sometimes, they will have to work weekends, sometimes evenings," he said.
Cars make an average of about 50,000 trips a day from Tampa Palms to Cross Creek, according to county reports.
Once the widening is complete, it should be able to handle the 70,000 car trips projected by the year 2028, Alford said.
The project is funded through several sources, including the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
Pasco County, meanwhile, has begun clearing the 4.5 miles of Bruce B. Downs between County Line Road and State Road 54 for its widening project.
That Stage 1 project, estimated to cost about $13 million, should be completed in November 2010.
Stage 3, from Pebble Creek to County Line Road, is the shortest at about 1.5 miles, and is expected to take about two years to complete at a cost of about $35 million. A start date for that phase has not been set, Alford said.
Stage 4, between Palm Springs and Bearss Avenue, has not been scheduled because it is still unfunded.
Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813)909-4613 or email@example.com.