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The long-awaited Gateway Expressway in Pinellas County is finally set to open

The Gateway Expressway entrance and a sign about its entrance along a largely empty road, with a few straggler cars up ahead
Sky Lebron
/
WUSF
The Gateway Expressway will be free for the first week. Starting May 3, drivers will pay between 28 and 86 cents to access it.

The $600 million project is scheduled to open Friday. It has been in its construction phase since 2017 and has been delayed numerous times.

UPDATE: The Gateway Expressway opened as of Friday at noon, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Drivers in the greater Tampa Bay region won't have to wait much longer for one of the area's biggest traffic congestion relief projects of the past decade to open.

The Gateway Expressway is expected to launch on Friday afternoon.

The expressway features two new toll roads that connect U.S. 19 and Interstate 275, along with another connection between the Bayside Bridge and I-275.

It will also create new express lanes on I-275 from Gandy Boulevard south toward Fourth Street.

The $600 million project has been in its construction phase since 2017 and had several delays.

"I think it's a good way for people to get around and have a more consistent way to travel to dodge some of the local roads and just have a more consistent drive that honestly might be a little bit safer," said Andrew Williams, the expressway's senior construction project manager.

Graphic showing the prices for the different entrances of the Gateway Expressway
Via FDOT District 7
/
Courtesy
Beginning Friday, the roadway will be open 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

Resident engineer Greg Deese has been working on the project since 2017. He says one of the main benefits is the connection from I-275 to U.S. 19, with drivers will be able to skip a glut of local traffic coming into Pinellas County.

"What I like about the gateway is that it separates your local traffic that's traveling on Roosevelt and 118th Avenue, from your thru traffic,” Deese said. “So traveling on 118th Avenue today, there's a large amount of congestion that will be alleviated because you'll have drivers taking the expressway.
 
The expressway will be free for the first week it's open. Starting May 3, drivers will pay between 28 and 86 cents to access it.

“We want to make sure that we give people the opportunity to really understand what this is,” Williams said. "A lot of people are looking forward to it and know what it's supposed to be. But really until you drive it, It's really hard to say.”

Beginning Friday, the roadway will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Overall, Williams said this can be a big-time people mover for the area, and relieve some of the stress that people experience on the roadways.

“We're trying to find a good way to give people these different options and save that time,” Williams said. “And I mean, just even the convenience. I mean, State Road 686 puts you right by the airport. That's pretty helpful.”

To help the public better understand the completed project, the Florida Department of Transportation has created video animations showing how the Gateway Expressway can be used.

View of an empty overpass
Sky Lebron
/
WUSF
The $600 million project has been in its construction phase since 2017 and had several delays.

Updated: April 26, 2024 at 12:25 PM EDT
This story has been updated with the Gateway Expressway opened as of Friday at noon.
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