The $545 million Gateway Expressway project officially began in August, 2017, however there’s been little to see until now.
That’s because the massive undertaking is a design-build project, which means its timeline includes the final design process, working within specifications provided by the Florida Department of Transportation. FDOT explains, this allows the contractor to begin working on portions of the project, while other portions are still being designed.
Construction recently began on the first of two components of the project. This includes building a pair of 4-lane elevated tolled roadways, SR-686A and SR-690.
On the northern end of the project, SR-686A will extend between the Bayside Bridge to just west of I-275. It will generally be constructed within the median of Roosevelt Boulevard, from the Bayside Bridge to Ulmerton Road, with a new interchange at Ulmerton, then will continue south until it merges with the future SR-690. This portion of the Gateway Expressway project requires reconfiguring the entrance to the St.Pete-Clearwater International (PIE) Airport, which is top priority and will be completed first.
Further south, SR-690, will be constructed from US-19 to west of I-275. It will generally be located in the median of existing 118th Avenue North, and includes flyover bridges connecting to mainline US-19. It will be elevated over portions of 118th Avenue N, as well as 49th, 47th, 34th, and 28th streets north. Construction is underway at US-19 and 118th Ave.
Tolling for SR-686A and SR-690 will be static, meaning the cost will remain the same at all hours. FDOT points out, the existing roadways will remain the same for drivers that do not want to pay tolls.
The second component of the Gateway Expressway project is the widening of I-275 to add one toll lane in each direction next to the existing freeway lanes from south of Gandy Boulevard to 4th Street North. These lanes are being designed in preparation for future express lanes proposed for the Howard Frankland Bridge. The design of the I-275 express lanes is still being completed, however FDOT expects construction on these toll lanes will begin in late 2018.
A complete flyover video of the project, as well as a fact sheet and regular construction updates, can be found here.