UPDATE | The I-75 widening project in Pasco County is delayed, again. Construction started in May 2014 and was supposed to wrap up sometime over the summer, 2017. Hurricane Irma and other things slowed it down and now it looks like construction won't be finished until closer to Christmas.
The Florida Department of Transportation says they're expecting the contractor to finish final paving by late December but before Christmas, weather permitting. As the paving completes, all new lanes on both I-75 and State Road 52 will be open to traffic. After that, there will be various minor work items and final clean-up work that will extend into January 2018.
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Original Story | Frustrated drivers on I-75 through Pasco and Hernando counties are impatiently waiting for the day the orange barrels and detour signs come down.
"It's crazy. It's just crazy," says Richard Martinnanceii III.
A 72-million dollar construction project that was supposed to wrap up this summer has been pushed back to the holidays at the earliest.
"Construction is a problem. I was told it would be over in about a year. That was three years ago and it's getting worse," says Rick Hoffman.
Crews are widening I-75 from four to six lanes from north of County Road 54 to north of State Road 52. Further complicating the project is the widening of State Road 52 on both sides of I-75.
"I don't think it's beneficial to widen 52. What for? Between St. Leo and here? It's a waste of money," says Matthew Carter.
The Florida Department of Transportation says the widening on I-75 and SR 52 is needed to accommodate for growth and more drivers on the roads. It's also vital during hurricane evacuations.
Before Hurricane Irma hit Florida, F-DOT halted all construction to help alleviate congestion for evacuees. Crews opened the third unfinished lane northbound on I-75. That lane still needs final paving. Southbound is still restricted to two lanes.
"Between weather and some changes we made along the way, we should be wrapping it up before Thanksgiving. That's our goal but it could stretch a little longer than that. We're at the point of the project where weather is real critical because of the different things that are going on. Obviously the contractor can't do a lot of work when it's raining and if it's been a heavy rain or a situation like we saw with Irma, sometimes it's more than just one day lost," says F-DOT spokesman John McShaffrey.
The to-do list is lengthy. F-DOT says they're still working on tings like paving, striping, pond construction, lighting, signs, cameras, and sensors.
To keep traffic moving, F-DOT only allows crews to work during the overnight hours when there are less vehicles on the roads.
"It takes a little longer to complete a project when the contractor can't do closures during the day. Also, we wanted to leave at least the number of lanes motorists had before construction all throughout construction. So if there were four lanes on the interstate, we want to maintain at least four lanes through all the peak hours of traffic," says McShaffrey.
McShaffrey says extending a project past it's estimated end date isn't unusual. Many of the projects in the bay area end on time. McShaffrey says when one does go long, F-DOT advises drivers of the delays.
"We're very glad people have had patience on this project. We know it's taken a long time. I think people on State Road 52 have probably gone through the most but the end is almost near. When it's done, traffic will flow a lot better through that area," says McShaffrey.