TAMPA — The Interstate 4-Selmon Expressway Connector could open to traffic Friday, but the need for some finishing touches and the potential for bad weather means its first day could be a last-minute decision.
“The contractor is still targeting to open to traffic by this Friday morning,” Florida Department of Transportation spokesman John McShaffrey said in an email Monday. “For the most part, there is not a lot that has to be done to accomplish this.’’
Final details include painting and cleanup work, as well as lane striping, he said. Work might continue as late as Thursday night.
McShaffrey said the two biggest obstacles to opening Friday are potential heavy rains in the next few days and completing the roadway lighting.
The latter is the bigger concern, he said. The contractor for the project, a PCS/Archer Western joint venture, must finish the last of the wiring and get power to the lights.
If the lights cannot be turned on, the roadway opening will be delayed until they are operational, McShaffrey said.
“The contractor will be working all week, including New Year’s Day, to do everything within its control to open the road by the end of the week,” McShaffrey said. “Of course, safety is paramount; the ramps won’t open until all needed safety measures, including lighting, are in place.”
The $500 million-plus elevated toll-road project was conceived three decades ago. Construction began March 1, 2010.
The connector’s primary purpose is to divert most Port of Tampa truck traffic, which can reach 10,000 vehicles daily, from downtown Ybor City streets. The new road also will provide motorists with a link between the Selmon Expressway and I-4 and improve hurricane evacuation options from Pinellas County.
About 1,000 people got a preview of the connector and its elevated views of the Tampa skyline Saturday during a 5K run.