Hillsborough County Engineering Division Public Works Project Manager William “Reg” Alford talks to local residents during a recent public meeting held in connection with the Boyette Rd. widening project at St. Stephens Catholic School in Riverview.

The good news is that the long-awaited third phase of the Boyette Rd. widening project is set to begin this month. The bad news, however, according to residents attending a recent public meeting are the expected increase in stop-and-go traffic and the proposed finished product, which did not get much support during the meeting held at St. Stephens Catholic School, located at 10424 St. Stephens Cir. in Riverview.
As expected, county officials, led by Hillsborough County Engineering Division Public Works Project Manager William “Reg” Alford faced a full house of local residents who wasted no time expressing their dislikes. They voiced opposition to the county’s free flowing “u-turn” solution, lack of noise reduction measures and inability to answer basic questions about the reasons for the delays that has also marked the project’s earlier phase.     
The current construction project includes widening Boyette Rd. from a two-lane road to a four-lane divided road between McMullen and Bell Shoals roads. It will also include grass medians in various areas as well as sidewalks and bicycle lanes on both sides of the road.
Alford said that the three miles of construction, the costliest of the total project, is estimated to begin in mid-August 2010, with a completion date sometime in the winter of 2014, a far cry from an earlier project-length estimate of 18-24 months.
“This phase of the project is scheduled to last 1,280 days, costing a total of an estimated $22 million,” he said.
The contract for this phase of the project was awarded by the county to Prince Contracting earlier this year and is led by Construction Project Manager, Dana Mackey.
While the preliminary utility work has already begun, phase III is proving to be the most challenging portion of the project, thanks to the removal of the Bell Creek Bridge, located about a half a mile west of Bell Shoals Rd., which will be replaced with two new bridges. 
Before demolishing the old bridge the county is planning to build a new two-lane bridge. Once the old bridge is complete, workers will start on the second two-lane bridge.
Access roads are also scheduled to be built to ease traffic during the construction, but, according to Alford, the troublesome Boyette/Bell Shoals roads and FishHawk Blvd. intersection will not see much relief until the end of the project.
The meeting also revealed that upon completion of the road work, Bell Creek subdivision residents, along with residents living in a number of adjacent communities alongside Boyette Rd., will no longer be able to turn left onto the future four-lane divided roadway.
To continue their westbound travels, motorists will be required to attempt a u-turn maneuver at the nearest intersection: seen as an inconvenience, this option reminds many of the Boyette Rd. project’s phase II blunder, which, after numerous complaints, was eventually corrected by the county.
Summing up the meeting, Riverview resident Kelly Legg, who uses Boyette Rd. as part of her daily commute, said, “I believe that while a lot of questions were answered by the county officials during the meeting, many more were created.”  
Hillsborough County Spokesperson Steve Valdez shared a positive outlook of this phase of the  project, when he said, “The public is now satisfied with the results of phase II, and we are confident that when the last phase is over, they will feel the same way.”
Unfortunately, satisfaction did not seem to be the identifying mark of the recent meeting, giving county officials much to reconsider, even as construction commences.  
For more information about the Boyette Rd. construction project, please visit www.hillsboroughcounty.gov.

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