It’s easy to recognize the progress being made on the widening of Segment D of Bruce B. Downs Blvd. (above). The final phase of the BBD widening is expected to be completed before the end of 2018.

The seemingly never-ending widening of Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., a project talked about and debated — and even cursed — for two decades, could be “substantially” finished by the end of October 2018.

While the mounds of dirt, yellow construction trucks working behind orange traffic barrels and the winding roads with sometimes confusing lane switches seem to contradict that claim, Hillsborough County’s Public Works Department says that all eight lanes of Segment D — the last of the four segments of the BBD project — will be operational in October.

That doesn’t preclude periodic daytime lane closures, as contractors complete punch list items, but the end, thankfully, is finally near.

The final full completion of the segment is scheduled for sometime in November.

The widening of Segment D — a 1.44-mile stretch from Pebble Creek Dr. to County Line Rd. — from a 4-lane divided roadway to an 8-lane divided roadway also will include a landscaped median, sidewalks, a multi-use path and upgraded traffic signals.

The final segment of BBD widening began construction in October of 2016.

According to the county’s website, Segment D’s cost was estimated at $24 million, which was funded through the Public Works Transportation Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and was awarded $5 million from the Transportation Regional Incentive Program (TRIP) by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

Segment A, which was once the most congested area of BBD and extends from Bearss Ave. to Palm Springs Blvd. in Tampa Palms, was a $54-million project that wrapped up last year.

Segments B and C, which bracket the work that was done around the same time I-75 was widened, were considered the most difficult (and costly) of the segments geographically, but were completed together first.

The two inside southbound lanes of Segment D have been completed, and plans were to finish the two outside northbound lanes, and then shift traffic by the end of August.

When the traffic shift has been completed, work will begin to complete the two inside turn lanes, as well as the median northbound and southbound.

As we reported last issue, county engineers recently showed results of a signal-timing project they say has improved traffic on BBD (and its side roads) south of Cross Creek Blvd., and said when the construction is done, some of those same signal-timing improvements will be applied to Segment D.
Also, a new traffic signal has been added at the intersection of BBDs and Trout Creek Dr. (just north of the Burger 21) in an effort to alleviate congestion off the side roads in that area. That signal was not yet operational at our press time.

While residents have complained about perceived inactivity on BBD at most of the traffic-related townhalls and forums held in New Tampa the past year, all of the previous segments had their own challenges. The completion of Segment D has had to overcome some construction and weather issues that have delayed progress at times.

Last year, Hurricane Irma (and other lesser storms) dumped enormous amounts of rain on the New Tampa area, and the usual summer-time showers this year also have provided some delays.

“The toughest aspects of the project so far have been the weather impacts,” wrote the county’s Public Works Department, responding to questions from the Neighborhood News. “All construction projects must utilize temporary drainage measures to address the rain. This project is unique because the installation of the main drainage line must connect to the adjacent drainage lines on the south end of the project first, to allow the entire project to drain properly.”

While the Segment D project is designed with the temporary drainage measures in place to handle the rain, “unusually quick and heavy” rains can overwhelm the drainage system, making it unable to drain the water from the roadway and causing backups.

The project also has faced obstacles like locating underground utilities, which in most cases can be traced as a straight line, but there are unexpected deviations that required a redesign.

“When coordinating multiple utility companies to install, relocate, and remove, it is challenging, especially when the majority of this work is completed by other companies all trying to fit in narrow areas,” the county says.

But, the delays haven’t been enough to change the much-anticipated completion date, which remains the end of 2018. The end of a two-decades-long wait draws ever closer.

Recommended Posts

No comment yet, add your voice below!

Add a Comment