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One parkway leads another to grow

(ran PC edition of PT)

With a few nips here and a few tucks there, transportation officials expect to have the Veterans Expressway in shape to handle additional traffic anticipated to come from the yet-to-open Suncoast Parkway.

While there has not been sufficient increase in traffic on the Veterans to warrant expansion, once the Suncoast Parkway opens, "Motorists might notice an increase," said Joanne Hurley, spokeswoman for the Suncoast Parkway.

The Suncoast Parkway, scheduled to open three years from now, is a 42-mile toll road that will carry commuters from as far away as Hernando County and will connect with the Veterans.

The changes underway on the Veterans to handle that expansion are being made at the Veterans' two northernmost toll plazas _ Sugarwood and Hutchison Road.

The Sugarwood toll plaza will be increased by three lanes in each direction for a total of six more lanes; the Hutchison ramp plaza, which has one lane to go north onto Hutchison Road, will be expanded to two northbound lanes with the addition of a toll plaza, Hurley said.

Those expansions are expected to take a year to complete with crews alternating work between Sugarwood and Hutchison, Hurley said.

"Motorists might notice some barrier walls or plants being dug up," Hurley said, but "there should be nothing that interferes with drivers at either toll plaza."

The Walsh Group, which has performed other turnpike projects, is the contractor. Work is scheduled to resume on Monday.