HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The highly anticipated opening of the Selmon West Extension opens to drivers Monday.
The elevated toll lane for drivers traveling from Brandon to Pinellas County will open to the public Monday afternoon.
The new route is expected to help ease traffic between the Gandy Bridge and Dale Mabry Highway. It will allow drivers to get from the bridge to Brandon without having to stop, according to the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA).
Tampa city leaders say the Selmon Extension is going to free up some of the roadways on Gandy Boulevard, known for traffic back-ups.
Construction for the 1.9-mile toll lane began in late 2018. The project costs $230 million.
Those using SunPass will be charged $0.95 to use the extension. It costs $1.31 for Toll-By-Plate billing. The Selmon West Extension is fully funded by toll revenues and bonds instead of taxpayer dollars.
“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,” said THEA Executive Director Joe Waggoner.
Donna Holloway is the branch manager at Ceramic Matrix. She says the new bridge should help many of the local businesses along Gandy Boulevard.
“It’ll alleviate a lot of that traffic that just wants to cross the bridge, whereas we’re a local business and it’ll be easier for our customers to come in here,” Holloway said.
“I’m excited to have that kind of access to the downtown area and not have to fight all that traffic through here, especially with the development that’s gone on in South Tampa over the last five to 10 years,” said resident, Corey Hopkins.
Phyllis Wong said she’s still not sure it’s enough to cut the traffic.
“I would’ve loved to see it be two lanes,” Wong said.