Press Contact: Sally Dee
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(Tampa, Fla.) – Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) announces its plan to open the Selmon West Extension. This elevated 1.9-mile toll lane will provide a seamless connection and a safe transportation option for drivers traveling from Brandon to Pinellas County.
Construction of the $230 million project began in late 2018 and will be open to the public in the afternoon of April 19, 2021.
“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.
The Selmon Extension’s opening marks the second time in 15 years that THEA has built a first-of-its-kind facility in the United States. In 2006, THEA completed the Selmon Expressway’s Reversible Express Lanes (REL) with all-electronic tolling. The REL was the world’s first reversible, all-electronic, elevated express lane project. When the Selmon West Extension opens this month, it will utilize an innovative design that has never been used before in the United States. The bridge’s distinctive fins provide a useful purpose by supporting the bridge deck, enabling longer span lengths between pier columns, and reducing height cross-section for the precast segments.
While most bridges stand 15’ off the ground, business owners along Gandy Boulevard were concerned that their businesses’ sightline would be blocked by a bridge that stood only at 15’ tall. THEA listened to their concerns and built the Selmon Extension 30’ from the ground to the bottom of the bridge.
THEA also talked to and surveyed the businesses along Gandy Boulevard and discovered other concerns. Business owners were worried that construction would close lanes and driveways, which would negatively impact their business. THEA imposed strict traffic management requirements to assure the contractor did not close driveways or lanes during rush hours. In partnership with local Chambers of Commerce, the agency also launched the “SHOP GANDY!” marketing campaign to support businesses before, during, and after construction.
The Selmon West Extension offers drivers a choice, either stay on Gandy Boulevard for local destinations, or use the Selmon West Extension for regional “pass-through” trips. The cost to use the Extension is $0.95 with SunPass, or $1.31 with Toll-By-Plate billing.
“The Selmon Extension provides a critical link that connects businesses, freight, and people from Pinellas County to Hillsborough County. It will help stimulate social and economic prosperity for local businesses and the entire region. We are proud of the design and the execution and the fact we were able to keep people employed and keep construction moving forward during the pandemic,” says Vincent Cassidy, Chairman, THEA Board of Directors.
By keeping construction going during the pandemic, THEA preserved more than 300 local area jobs.
A ribbon-cutting event will be held on April 19th. Due to COVID 19 concerns, attendance will be by invitation only. At that time THEA will also present the City of Tampa a $2 million check to rebuild the parks on the north and south side of Gandy Boulevard, which were used as staging areas during construction.
Toll revenues and bonds fully fund the Selmon West Extension without using any taxpayer dollars.
The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) is a public agency of the state, created by the Florida Legislature to provide local, user-financed transportation services that reinvest customer-based revenues back into the Tampa Bay community. THEA owns and operates the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, Brandon Parkway, Meridian Avenue, and the Selmon Greenway; designed and operates the world’s first reversible all-electronic toll road; and provides over 200,000 daily trips with safe, reliable, and financially sustainable transportation service. For more information on how THEA is moving transportation forward, visit www.tampa-xway.com.