TAMPA — Construction crews on Monday night installed the last concrete segment of the Selmon Extension, a 1.9-mile toll-lane connector that officials hope will open next summer.
The connector’s two lanes of elevated roadway will link the Gandy Bridge to the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway and Dale Mabry Highway. Construction started in January 2018 on the $230 million project, with completion planned for fall 2020. The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority now hopes to finish in six to eight months.
Joe Waggoner, chief executive of the authority, said the project has been 25 years in the making.
“Like our community, we are eager to complete construction to improve travel commutes in Tampa Bay,” Waggonner said in a statement.
The concrete segment installed earlier this week was the last of 744. Each weighs about 72 tons. They are propped up by 55 columns rising 30 feet in the air.
Now that all major construction items are completed, crews will shift their attention to details, such as electric lines, lights, drainage and paint.
“The house is built, but now we have to put the floor in, the sinks in, those types of things,” spokeswoman Sue Chrzan said.
The authority also needs to build the sides of the bridge lanes so motorists don’t veer off.
Toll revenue and bonds are paying for the new lanes, which will cost drivers $1.19 to use. Those enrolled in SunPass will pay 94 cents. To drive the expressway end to end will cost $5.04 or $4.07 with Sunpass.
The Selmon Expressway carries about 100,000 vehicles a day and runs 14 miles now, from the corner of Town Center Boulevard and the Brandon Parkway to the corner of Gandy Boulevard and Dale Mabry.
Commuters heading to St. Petersburg now have to get off at Dale Mabry and drive Gandy to reach the bridge over Tampa Bay, adding to peak-time gridlock throughout South Tampa.
When the extension is complete, the Expressway Authority estimates the wait time at traffic signals on Gandy will drop by as much as half to two-thirds.