By Brad Stager
A new road project approved by the Hillsborough County Commission will provide another route to travel between the rapidly growing areas of homes and commercial developments along Highways US 41 and US 301 in the SouthShore area.
Known as “Apollo Beach Blvd. I-75 Overpass (Paseo al Mar)” to county transportation officials, the project will link Apollo Beach Blvd./Paseo al Mar Blvd. from its current eastern terminus, just west of I-75 in the Waterset development, with the currently dead-ended portion of Paseo al Mar Blvd. that lies east of I-75 in the Belmont subdivision. It skirts the northern boundary of Bullfrog Creek Mitigation Park Wildlife and Environmental Area.
The cost of the four-lane divided county road construction project is $22,251,657 and includes an overpass above I-75 and a bridge over Bullfrog Creek, providing increased connectivity between two of the region’s major north-south roads, US 41 and US 301.
Besides greater capacity to move cars and trucks around SouthShore, other benefits include new sidewalks and bicycle lanes, providing local residents choices in accessing the growing number of businesses, services and recreational opportunities that are sprouting up all over what was once considered by land developers of the early 20th century to be an uninhabitable area.
The planned route provides a link to an existing east-west road, CR 672, to create a transportation corridor from CR 39, west to the Apollo Beach waterfront.
According to a media release from Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman, the county is providing $4.25 million for the project and the Florida Department of Transportation is paying $5.75 million, with the developer of Waterset by Newland Communities contributing $12 million.
“This will create a vital new east-west corridor for SouthShore residents—the first in many years. The developer is contributing over one-half of the total cost of this project, which is laudable, and we can now say ‘the developer pays’ for infrastructure. The new Apollo Beach Boulevard will also provide a much needed access option and give relief to residents stuck in congestion on Big Bend Rd. till those improvements are complete,” she wrote in an email.
The final design of the project is expected to be completed early this year with construction beginning before the end of 2020 and ending in late 2022.