The new Selmon Expressway Connector cost $422-million to build, and now it's finally almost done. While it may be the most expensive mile of pavement in the Bay Area, the views match the price tag.
Three years after construction started, the massive series of elevated spans and ramps -- which will connect the Selmon Expressway with Interstate 4 -- is slated to open around the end of the year.
"We have just finishing touches for the most part. All the bridge structures are in place. We're putting up barrier walls, putting up signs, striping, finishing grooving of the bridge decks. So, we're not far off from putting traffic out here," FDOT spokesman John McShaffery explained.
Crews will still be working beneath and around the project through February, but officials say it won't affect traffic. In fact, the toll road should give drivers more options and, hopefully, a quicker commute.
"These guys have put their heart and soul into it to build this and to build it properly. This is one of the most quality-conscious projects that I've ever worked on," offered project administrator Sherman Johnson.
Truckers hauling fuel, chemicals, and other supplies to and from the port will now get a clear shot to the interstate.
"That's been an issue for a long time, especially through 21st and 22nd streets, through the heart of Ybor, by the Columbia restaurant," McShaffery continued. "We've got heavy truck traffic going through to and from I-4 and the port, and when we get this project done, the majority of that truck traffic is going to be using this route instead."
The views are incredible, and you can see it for yourself later this month. FDOT is holding a one-time-only 5K run on the connector, just before it opens to traffic.
"You'll be able to see downtown Tampa, McKay Bay, Ybor City, the port area. You can see as far as Busch Gardens and even St. Pete on a clear day. So you'll get a lot of views that you can only get from being on one of these bridges, maybe from a skyscraper downtown," McShaffery added.
The 'Run the Connector' 5K race will be on December 28. You can register and learn more at www.runtheconnector5k.com