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Connector project forges ahead through delays

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 07:57 PM
TAMPA -

Gray bridge pieces dangle at gravity-defying angles on massive concrete columns, as if a giant were assembling a racetrack for Hot Wheels cars.

Above and below, hundreds of workers labor at a more human scale to connect the now-distant pieces of the project known as the connector, a 12-lane elevated highway linking the Selmon Expressway and the Port of Tampa with Interstate 4.

It's the grandest public performance in Tampa, playing seven days a week and nearly 24 hours a day before an audience of thousands. They motor past on the expressway or the interstate, wondering how all those parts will ever line up.

When it's done, it will form a distinctive swoosh along the Tampa skyline.

More importantly, it will pull roaring tractor-trailer rigs from the streets of historic Ybor City and provide people living south of Brandon a more direct route to Tampa International Airport, Raymond James Stadium and Interstate 275.

Delays are typical with Florida's summer rains and the threat of seasonal hurricanes, said Florida Department of Transportation spokesman John McShaffrey. Tropical Storm Debby kept workers away from the site three or four days.

The daily performance will shut down, too, when an even bigger show hits town: The Republican National Convention, Aug. 27-30.

Initially, the cost of the connector was set at $389.5 million. But there have been some overruns, including a $6.6 million unanticipated shoring up of the substructure surrounding the bridge supports.

Among its features, the state Department of Transportation said:

Read more about the project Sunday in The Tampa Tribune

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