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FDOT's $39.6 billion work plan heads to Legislature

@mikevansickler

Never mind that Mapquest ranked Interstate 95 and Interstate 4 last out of 66 interstates in the U.S.,or that driving in Tampa Bay, Orlando or Miami can be an endurance sport. 

According to the Florida Transportation Commission, the nine-member board appointed by Gov. Rick Scott that oversees the Department of Transportation, things will get better out there on the roads and highways.

But only after years of construction.

Before unanimously approving the DOT's $39.6 billion work program for the next five years on Monday afternoon, board members lauded the eight DOT secretaries and managers for their proposals that will be one of Scott's lasting legacies: a pro-growth transportation plan that's heavy on road widenings, tolls and public private partnerships.

"We have major challenges ahead," said board member Maurice Ferré. "Miami in the last five to six years has really become a major American metropolitian area. It’s wonderful to see, but it’s also frightening to see that 60,000 construction units are either underway or about to be on their way."

In all, the work plan will construct 708 additional lane miles of roadway, resurface 6,917 lane miles of existing roadway, repair 208 bridges and replace 87 bridges.

All of that means more roadwork. And more roadwork means more of those orange construction cones that will help slow traffic.

"Almost every commuter in Jacksonville will be passing through an active construction zone in their daily commutes," said Greg Evans, secretary for DOT's District 2, which covers Jacksonville and northeast Florida. "We've got to try to stay ahead of that and work with our media and local residents and businesses to help them understand that, hey, be patient with us. We don't work under a roof. We are subject to Mother Nature and everything she throws at us. And this (construction) job is going to be a great asset to you, it's going to improve commute times, but you got to be patient with us."

For those motorists who are already commuting through miles of construction zones, that might be a big ask.

The plan now goes to lawmakers for approval.

Here are some Tampa Bay highlights for 2015/16 - 2019/20:

$3.4 billion work plan

-- $446.9 million for Interstate 275/Howard Frankland Bridge replacement (FY 2019) between Hillsborough and Pinellas.

-- $350.6 million automated people move project at Tampa International Airport Gateway Center (FY 2016-2019) in Hillsborough.

-- $329.7 million for Gateway Expressway, from SR 690 at US 19 and SR 686 at County Road 611 to west of Interstate 275 in Pinellas County. (FY 2017)

-- $78.1 right-of-way for Tampa Bay Express interchange improvements (FY 2016-17) in Hillsborough.

-- $44.2 million in construction, $6 million for right-of-way for US 19 from north of SR 580/Main Street to Northside Drive in Pinellas. 

-- $54.6 million in construction of SR 52 from west of Suncoast Parkway to east of U.S. 41/SR 45; and $15 million in construction of SR 52 from west of CR 581/Bellamy Brothers Road to east of Old Pasco Road in Pasco County; $52 million in construction, $4 million in right of way, and $5.7 million in planning and engineering of SR 52 from east of McKendree Road to east of Fort King Road. (2016-2019)

-- $21.8 million in construction of SR 50 from Windmere Road/Bronson Boulevard to U.S. 98/McKethan Road in Hernando.

-- $21.3 million for County Road 578 at the Hernando/Pasco border from Suncoast Parkway to U.S. 41 at Ayers Road.

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