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FDOT officials bring expressway plans to Pinellas

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Florida Department of Transportation officials will be on hand 5 to 7 Thursday evening to answer questions and present the Gateway Expressway project to residents.

The meeting will be at the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s administration building located at 3201 Scherer Drive, St. Petersburg.

The location is appropriate considering it’s just about ground zero for the project set to begin in 2017 when getting from South St. Pete or mid-Pinellas to North County will start getting a whole lot quicker.

A series of new elevated expressways will be erected connecting Interstate-275 to U.S. 19 along 118th Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard to Ulmerton Road. There will also be a connection to the Bayside Bridge.

There’s a catch though: The new expressways will be toll roads. Those who don’t want to pony up to save a few minutes on their commutes can still use the routes along 118th Avenue, Roosevelt, and Ulmerton.

The five-year project is expected to cost about $337 million. The Federal Highway Administration is kicking in a little more than $150 million. Pinellas will spend $53 million from Penny for Pinellas funds and the state will pay the rest.

Gov. Rick Scott announced one year ago that he was accelerating the timeline for the project as part of a $200 million increase in transportation spending.

The meeting with FDOT will have aerial photos and graphics showing where the new roads will run. There will be an opportunity for one-on-one discussions and officials will hear public comment.

After the meeting, information on the project will be available at the Pinellas Park Public library and the FDOT District 7 office at 11201 N. Malcolm McKinley Drive in Tampa near Busch Gardens.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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