US 19 overpass open for morning commute - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

US 19 overpass open for morning commute

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The overpass on US 19 The overpass on US 19
CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) - US 19 Highway drivers are getting a little relief, finally. The US 19 southbound overpass at Gulf to Bay in Clearwater is opening for traffic. After more than four years of constant US Highway 19 construction between Whitney Road and Drew Street, business owners are happy to see some progress.

"US 19 is a parking lot," Chad Conley, who owns a barbershop near the overpass, said. "I always avoid it.

Since the groundbreaking of construction on US 19 in 2009, 8 On Your Side has been doing stories about upset business owners, who told us the construction crippled their income. The overpass opening got pushed back at least three months, according to FDOT, after the contractor botched the ramp.

In January Gov. Rick Scott announced that FDOT would pay $3.2 million so crews could work 24/7.

On Monday, the northbound overpass will shut down, and drivers will be diverted onto the newly minted southbound overpass. The northbound section should be done in spring 2015. Judging by past construction delays, Conley's not confident with the timetable.

"It'll be good when it's done. We just have to get it done."

Kris Carson, a spokesperson with FDOT, says the overpass will shave about 10 minutes off commute times.

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