Construction begins on Gateway Expressway project

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A major construction and reconstruction project is starting this year in the Gateway area of Pinellas County that will not only change the landscape but impact people's daily drive to and from Hillsborough County.

Right now crews are installing orange construction signs alerting drivers they are entering a construction zone as well as doing temporary barrier wall work ahead of the groundbreaking.

The Gateway Expressway, in a nutshell, will allow drivers to travel, with no traffic signals, between US 19 and I-275 and between the Bayside Bridge and I-275. It will allow drivers to bypass congested surface streets by taking tolled express lanes. Learn more about the project here.

The Gateway area of Pinellas County experiences high traffic volume during much of the day, especially during peak commuting hours. While many improvements have been made to the roadway system in the area, additional improvements are needed to allow for faster commuting times and to provide better traffic movement to and from the businesses within the project area, including the St. Pete/Clearwater International Airport.

The project includes two new 4-lane elevated tolled roadways connecting US 19 and I-275 and between the Bayside Bridge and I-275. Also, I-275 will be widened to add one toll lane in each direction in the median next to the existing freeway lanes from south of Gandy Boulevard to the Howard Frankland Bridge. Another component of the Gateway Expressway is to reconstruct existing Roosevelt Boulevard from the Bayside Bridge to Ulmerton Road and reconstruct sections of US 19 and 118th Avenue North, including new ramps and flyover structures.

Improving connectivity between major highways is not a new concept. Tampa has something similar with the I-4 Selmon Connector. The Gateway Expressway is longer in miles and differs from the Connector in that it connects freeways instead of a freeway to a tolled road. The Gateway Expressway is similar to the I-4 Selmon Connector in that it will provide a direct, express connection between major roadways. 

The Florida Department of Transportation says the tolled lanes will be "static", meaning the cost will remain the same at all hours. However, that is only true for the Gateway Expressway portion of the project.

Construction is projected to be finished by late 2021. FDOT says the Gateway Expressway is being built to accommodate projected traffic growth to the year 2040.

Drivers will notice major construction work beginning in February or March, 2018.

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