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Overpass will benefit trail users

Summer users of the Upper Tampa Bay Trail will have an easier time crossing Gunn Highway near Westfield Shoppingtown Citrus Park.

The Florida Department of Transportation is building a $2.2-million overpass that will cross nine lanes of traffic near the Veterans Expressway, where Gunn makes a sharp turn to the north.

Until now trail users have had to dodge traffic at the Gunn Highway crossing. But that should change when the overpass is complete. State officials say the job should be finished in July.

"This is the first overpass for the trail program," said Charner Reese, principal planner with the Hillsborough County department of planning and growth management. "The next will be an underpass at Waters Avenue and some bridges over water."

Gunn Highway was closed Tuesday night in order for cranes to put the 174-foot span in place. The overpass begins about 500 feet south of Gunn and extends north to Edgemere Drive.

Landscaping is included in the project. The state will maintain the street crossing so pedestrians can continue to visit surrounding businesses.

Money for the overpass comes from the federal grant, said Kris Carson, spokeswoman for the FDOT.

The Upper Tampa Bay Trail is a paved 16-mile stretch that goes through Northwest Hillsborough. When complete it will go from Memorial Highway to Lutz-Lake Fern Road before linking to the 29-mile Suncoast Parkway Trail.

_ Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 269-5308 or ripleysptimes.com

The overpass at Gunn Highway will cross nine lanes of traffic and will cost more than $2-million.

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