CLEARWATER — Gov. Rick Scott this morning announced that the state will accelerate construction of a $330 million project to link I-275 to U.S. 19, providing a first express link between the south and north of the county.
Design of the five-year project, which would also include an expressway linking I-275 to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, is expected to begin in 2017. It was not expected to be funded for another 15 years.
The link to U.S. 19 would be along 118th Avenue North and to the airport along Roosevelt Boulevard. It would include elevated toll sections.
Speaking at the Pinellas Realtor’s Association on Ulmerton Road, Scott said the project would ease congestion for residents and businesses. Florida Department of Transportation officials estimate it will save drivers nine to 13 minutes during rush-hour commutes.
“Advancing the Gateway Express Project right here in Pinellas County is going to mean more jobs; it will mean more people to move here; it’s going to continue to improve our environment,” Scott said. “This will allow the express lanes to be available for use 10 to 20 years earlier.”