By Brian Bokor
Big Bend Rd. will be widened from four lanes to six with construction beginning in late 2021. The 1.6-mile project will stretch between Covington Garden Dr. and Simmons Loop and will include enhanced pedestrian, bicycle and bus facilities. Pedestrian safety features will include wide sidewalks and enhanced crosswalks and signals.
The joint design-build project between Hillsborough County and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) was initially planned to be completed in two phases and take up to 10 years. It will now be done simultaneously as a single six-year project. The new anticipated completion date is slated for late 2024.
Northbound improvements to the Big Bend Rd./I-75 interchange include constructing a new northbound on-ramp for westbound Big Bend Rd. traffic which will realign the traffic from a left-turn across travel lanes to a right-hand lane merging onto the interstate.
Eastbound travelers on Big Bend Rd. heading north onto I-75 will have a dedicated two-lane on-ramp added that will be accessible via a left-turn at the existing Big Bend Rd./I-75 exit ramp signal near the South County Public Works facility. The current I-75 northbound ramp will be removed in its entirety.
Southbound improvements to the Big Bend Rd./I-75 interchange include constructing a new off-ramp for westbound Big Bend Rd. traffic which will eliminate the need to cross Big Bend Rd. exiting I-75 from the north. The southbound I-75 off-ramp with also be lengthened in order to eliminate backups into travel lanes on I-75.
Eastbound Big Bend Rd. travelers will have an additional exit lane added and will continue to use the same traffic pattern as is currently utilized without having to share the exit with vehicles heading west.
Old Big Bend Rd. will be reconstructed to avoid the ramps to be built as part of the Big Bend Rd./I-75 interchange along with a roundabout utilized at the Old Big Bend Rd./Bullfrog Creek Rd. intersection.
Signal improvements at Covington Garden Dr. and Simmons Loop as well as improved storm water drainage are part of the $65,500,000 project, of which FDOT will be contributing $20,000,000. Hillsborough County is also pursuing additional funding (Build Grant) from the Federal Highway Administration to offset local county funds.
For more information, contact Manny Santos, E.I. Public Works project manager, at 635-5400 (CIP Project Number: 69657000) or visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/government/county-projects.