By Tamas Mondovics

The weather may have been able to stop the highly anticipated ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled to feature Hillsborough County Officials, representatives from the Brandon Westfield Mall and Chamber of Commerce, but did not hold back the long-awaited official opening of the brand new South Gornto Lake Rd. Expansion last month.

On Tuesday, September 24, construction crews removed the orange barriers at each end of the newly extended approximately half-mile-long roadway which now provides access by way of four 11-ft. wide vehicle travel lanes and two 4-ft. wide bicycle lanes, as well as a 5-ft. wide sidewalk along both sides.

According to county spokesperson, Crystal Pruitt, the project had an estimated cost of $4 million funded by the Community Investment Tax. “The Gornto Lake Rd. Expansion Projects was completed $85,000 under budget, and was finished two weeks ahead of schedule,” Pruitt said. “The best part is that the project was completed on time and ahead of the holiday season.”

Hillsborough County crews began the extension project from south of Brandon Blvd. to approximately 800 ft. south of Town Center Blvd. about a year ago.

Pruitt added that with the opening of the roadway, shoppers traveling to the Brandon Westfield Mall will now find it much easier to get to store locations as they begin using the new connector road.

Speaking of the benefits of the project, County Commission Chair, Ken Hagan, also mentioned that the additional roadway expansion will improve traffic flow and help relieve congestion.

“Residents and visitors now have safer and easier access to numerous retail and small businesses in the area,” Hagan said.

At the start of the project officials emphasized that since the existing Gornto Lake Road contained a mixture of commercial and residential uses, when finished, the new roadway will likely see more than 20,000 vehicles daily making use of the four-lane extension.

“We’ve moved forward with a project that commuters, shoppers and businesses have all been eagerly awaiting,” County Commissioner Al Higginbotham said. “We want to promote a better quality of life for people to live, work and play here.”

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