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Resurfacing on U.S. 19 causes traffic backup

Frustrating traffic delays were common Monday as crews resurfaced one of U.S. 19's northbound lanes.

About noon, northbound traffic on the busy highway was backed up from north of Sugarmill Woods to south of U.S. 98. Drivers said they faced similar trouble during morning rides, as well.

Sometimes the Department of Transportation will re-open a closed lane when traffic troubles mount, agency spokeswoman Marian Pscion said. In this case, however, crews were spreading liquid asphalt and couldn't quickly shut down the job and allow traffic onto the lane under repair.

On Monday, crews closed a traffic lane for 1{ miles. Today they plan to close a shorter section, which could reduce the traffic problems.

"They're going to work on that in the morning," Pscion said.

Working in sections, crews have been resurfacing U.S. 19's northbound and southbound lanes between County Road 490 and the Hernando County line. Workers are concentrating on the right northbound lane in the following area: a point half mile north of Cypress Boulevard and a point north of Cardinal Street.

Linda Mustain works at Sugarmill Woods and had no traffic trouble Monday. Then again, she works a flexible schedule and decided to start super early, about 4 a.m.

By the time most drivers hit U.S. 19, traffic was a nightmare. Mustain, who works for the management company that helps operate the Cypress Village Property Owners Association, had a good view of the trouble from her office near the busy highway.

"When I came in a few minutes ago . . . there was traffic all the way below 98. That's a mile away. And they have one lane going north," she said just after noon.

Vehicles also were backed up inside Sugarmill's entrance, trying to merge onto U.S. 19, she said.

This isn't the first time U.S. 19 traffic has been backed up. There have been some delays at various points in the project. The most noticeable one came in late February when a road worker noticed a sinkhole on a U.S. 19 median, prompting the state to close about 1,500 feet of a southbound lane near West Bradshaw Street between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The sinkhole, which was about 3 feet deep, was quickly filled in.