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What’s planned for the busy Big Bend interchange in Riverview?

Dr. Delay has an update on the Hillsborough County projects to fix the traffic nightmare at the Interstate 75 interchange.
Hillsborough County is planning two widening projects to improve Big Bend Road beginning in 2020, targeting the Interstate 75 interchange from west of Covington Garden Drive to east of Simmons Loop, and from U.S. 41 to Covington Gardens Drive and Simmons Loop to U.S. Hwy 301.
Hillsborough County is planning two widening projects to improve Big Bend Road beginning in 2020, targeting the Interstate 75 interchange from west of Covington Garden Drive to east of Simmons Loop, and from U.S. 41 to Covington Gardens Drive and Simmons Loop to U.S. Hwy 301.
Published Dec. 16, 2019

RIVERVIEW — Apollo Beach residents, we’ve heard your cry.

Improvements are finally coming to the ever-congested Big Bend Road interchange that sees about 50,000 vehicles a day.

Hillsborough County has two projects to help fix the backups every morning and afternoon for traffic entering and exiting Interstate 75.

One will widen Big Bend Road (County Road 672) and improve the I-75 interchange from west of Covington Garden Drive to east of Simmons Loop.

The other widens Big Bend Road from U.S. 41 to Covington Gardens Drive and Simmons Loop to U.S. Hwy 301.

Both projects are in the initial planning phase, which is expected to be complete in early 2020. Then it moves to the design phase, which typically lasts about nine months before residents begin seeing construction in 2022.

The combined projects have an estimated cost of $76,276,000.

For the first project, the county has teamed up with the Florida Department of Transportation, which will contribute an $20 million to the already $40.5 million dollar project and will be responsible primarily for designing and building the I-75 interchange improvements.

Big Bend Road will go from a four-lane divided road to a six-lane divided road with enhanced bike, pedestrian and bus facilities. Crews will replace the existing bridge on Old Big Bend Road over Bullfrog Creek, enhance crosswalks and signals, reconfiguring the interchange ramps at I-75 and realign Old Big Bend Road.

It’s the county’s first “design/build” project, which spokesman Chris Wilkerson said goes faster than the traditional process. He said these kinds of projects typically take up to eight years, but they’re projecting four years.

“We recognize that the congestion in that corridor needs to be addressed quickly,” Wilkerson said. “An ideal intersection would create a situation where people did not have to stop to get on the interstate. They can climb on the interstate no matter which way they’re coming from.”

Hillsborough County and the state held a public hearing on Nov. 12 at South Bay Church where they discussed the project. Nearly 300 people attended.

Sandra Gonzalez, Hillsborough County’s planning and design manager, said most of the concerns came from residents of south Hillsborough County. They are concerned about traffic and safety, and the long amount of time it takes to get to the interstate.

Gonzalez is confident that the upcoming improvements will address these concerns.

“As part of the project, those delays will be greatly diminished,” she said. “With this new proposal, there will be less congestion on both ramps.”

The second project aims to better accommodate growth and traffic volumes, and increase the overall mobility along Big Bend Road while maximizing safety.

The project will widen Big Bend Road from U.S. 41 to Covington Gardens Drive and from Simmons Loop to US 301 from a four-lane divided road to a six-lane divided road. It will enhance bike, pedestrian and bus facilities, add pedestrian safety features and improve stormwater drainage.

• • •

TRAFFIC UPDATES AND CLOSURES:

Hernando County:

  • U.S. 98 new bridge construction of Suncoast Parkway 2, half-mile on each side of Suncoast Parkway (State Road 589) causes lane closures every day through Saturday.
  • SR 50 (Cortez Blvd) widening from Windmere Road/Bronson Boulevard to U.S. 301 causes lane closures through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • U.S. 41 repaving from Bullfrog Creek to Denver Street causes intermittent lane closures through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hillsborough County:

  • Interstate 275 operational improvements from west of State Road 60 (Exit 39) to Lois Avenue (Exit 40B) causes lane closures through Friday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • SR 60 operational improvements at SR 589 (Veteran’s Expressway) cause nightly lane closures through Saturday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • Lane closures on SR 60 under I-275 through Friday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • SR 60 (Kennedy Boulevard) traffic signal upgrades from Armenia Avenue to Brevard Avenue causes nightly lane closures through Friday from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • SR 582 (Fowler Avenue) median improvements at 12th Street causes lane closures through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • County Road 580 (Sam Allen Road) widening from east of Paul Buchman Highway (SR 39A) to Park Road causes lane closures with flagging operations through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • CR 587 (West Shore Boulevard) at I-275 causes lane closures through Friday from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
  • CR 672 (Big Bend Road) bridge replacement from Dickman Road to Wyandotte Road causes lane closures 24 hours a day through Saturday

Pasco County:

  • U.S. 41 (Land O’ Lakes Boulevard) repaving from Ehren Cutoff to Tower Road/Carricker Road causes nightly lane closures through Thursday from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • State Road 54 widening from Curley Road to Morris Bridge Road causes intermittent nightly lane closures through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

Pinellas County:

  • Alternate U.S. 19 (Myrtle Avenue) repaving from State Road 60 (Chestnut Street) to Mohawk Street causes intermittent lane closures through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • SR 688, SR 586 and SR 580 intersection lighting improvements causes lane closures through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. at various locations:
    • SR 688 (Ulmerton Road) between Hamlin Boulevard in Largo and Feather Sound Drive in St. Petersburg
    • SR 586 (Curlew Road) between Alt 19/Bayshore in Dunedin and Tampa Road in Oldsmar
  • SR 699 (Gulf Boulevard) drainage improvements from Walsingham Road to Fourth Avenue North causes intermittent lane closures with flagging operations through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Gateway Expressway (new tolled roadway system) updates:

  • Interstate 275 from south of Gandy Boulevard (Exit 28) to Fourth Street N (Exit 32) and I-275 northbound Exit 30 ramp to westbound State Road 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) westbound 118th Avenue (County Road 296) causes lane closures through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) entrance ramp to the Bayside Bridge, SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) from SR 688 (Ulmerton Road) to 49th Street N, and SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) from 28th Street N to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N, causes lane closures through Saturday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Monique Welch is a staff writer at the Tampa Bay Times, and the voice behind Dr. Delay. Send your traffic concerns, questions, and pictures of roadway troubles you spot in your travels around the Tampa Bay area to docdelay@tampabay.com. Follow @AskDrDelay.