The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) recently announced plans to open the Selmon West Extension, an elevated 1.9-mile toll lane providing a connection for drivers traveling from Brandon to Pinellas County in Florida.
Construction of the $230 million project began in late 2018 and will be open to the public in the afternoon of April 19, 2021.
“This project has been 25 years in the making, and I am thrilled it’s finally ready to open. THEA challenged our design-build team to come up with an innovative and aesthetically pleasing design that would minimize the negative effects of construction on the businesses along the Gandy corridor,” THEA Executive Director Joe Waggoner said in a statement.
In 2006, THEA completed the Selmon Expressway’s Reversible Express Lanes (REL) with all-electronic tolling. The REL was the world's first reversible, all-electronic, elevated express lane project. When the Selmon West Extension opens this month, it will utilize an innovative design that has never been used before in the U.S., THEA says. The bridge’s distinctive fins provide a useful purpose by supporting the bridge deck, enabling longer span lengths between pier columns, and reducing height cross-section for the precast segments.
Business owners along Gandy Boulevard were worried that construction would close lanes and driveways, which would negatively impact their business. THEA imposed strict traffic management requirements to assure the contractor did not close driveways or lanes during rush hours. In partnership with local Chambers of Commerce, the agency also launched the “SHOP GANDY!” marketing campaign to support businesses before, during, and after construction.
The Selmon West Extension offers drivers a choice, either stay on Gandy Boulevard for local destinations or use the Selmon West Extension for regional “pass-through” trips.
A ribbon-cutting event will be held on April 19 to officially open the Selmon West Extension. Toll revenues and bonds fully fund the Selmon West Extension without using any taxpayer dollars.
SOURCE: Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority