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New road connecting Riverview, Brandon Mall to open ahead of schedule

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image Constructing of the Gornto Lake Road extension is expected to ease congestion at the entrance and exits from Interstate 75 on State Road 60 as well as the Westfield Brandon Mall. Photo Kevin Brady

The new road will make driving to the popular shopping destination less of a headache

By KEVIN BRADY

South County area drivers are getting an early Christmas present this year, courtesy of Hillsborough County Public Works.

A new road that will connect Riverview to Westfield Brandon Mall, scheduled to open just before the holiday shopping season, is now on track to open months earlier, making that drive to the popular area shopping destination less of a headache on the car if not the wallet.

“Everything is moving right along,” said C.T. Chen, a project manager with Hillsborough County’s Public Works Department. “If everything goes as planned, we are looking at opening in early September.”

Constructing the Gornto Lake Road extension is expected to ease congestion at the entrance and exits from Interstate 75 on State Road 60 as well as the mall. The extension is expected to handle about 20,000 vehicles a day.

The $3.95 million roadway will stretch for 0.7 miles from State Road 60 to about 800 feet south of Town Center Boulevard and has been on the books since 2006.

The road will give South County drivers a straight shot to the mall from U.S. Highway 301 and Bloomingdale Avenue along Gornto Lake Road into the mall’s rear entrance.

Mall officials are excited the new roadway will open early.

“We have been working with the county for some time to get this in place and we are thrilled it is finally coming to fruition,” said Dawn Arvidson, Westfield Brandon’s marketing director. “It’s even better that it will be finished early.”

The new road will not only give shoppers an extra access point to the mall but will also alleviate some of the overflow traffic that frequently cuts through the shopping center. Drivers trying to reach State Road 60 from Providence Road often use the mall as a short cut. They will now be able to use the new extension road.

“It will just be easier for people to now get in and out of our property. It’s certainly a positive for us,” Arvidson said.

Good weather, the absence of any major storms and the lack of any underground pipes have helped speed the project along, Chen said.

“The weather has cooperated and we have a lot less underground work to worry about with this road because it’s an extension and a new road. Even when the afternoon summer storms started, we already had the blacktop in place; otherwise it might have washed out the work we had already done.”

Chen also credited workers on the project, which is being overseen by QGS Development Inc.

“They have done a really good job and been very diligent about working with the contractor.”

Martin Bebbington, owner of Euro Café, a European deli on State Road 60, a stone’s throw from the new roadway, can’t wait for the project to be complete.

“The congestion around this area is really bad at times, especially around the holidays,” Bebbington said.

“Due to the increase in residential and commercial development in the Brandon area, there was a need for an additional north-south corridor between State Road 60 and Lumsden Road (Causeway Boulevard),” according a county report outlining the project.

Ground broke on the project last October, a response to years of congestion around the mall that is home to more than 100 businesses including Macy’s, Apple and  Dillard’s.

 “It will definitely make a big difference. especially around Christmas time, relieving pressure around the mall because most people use just one way in and out now,” Chen said.

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