This Project Concept Report presents the basic requirements of a Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study for improvements to Toll Road 589/568 (Veterans Expressway) in Hillsborough County. The approximate project limits are from County Road (CR) 576 (Memorial Highway) at Milepost 1.049 of the Veterans Expressway to CR 685A (Van Dyke Road) at Milepost 12.803 of the Suncoast Parkway.
These improvements are to provide for the widening of the Veterans Expressway from 4 to 8-lanes from Memorial Highway to the Veterans Expressway/Suncoast Parkway Interchange. The widening improvement would be extended northward along the Suncoast Parkway approximately one-half mile, ending at the Van Dyke Road Interchange to achieve proper lane balance and provide ample room to transition to the existing four-lane Suncoast Parkway. The project also includes geometric improvements to the Hillsborough Avenue, Waters Avenue, Anderson Road, Linebaugh Avenue, Wilsky Boulevard, Gunn Highway, Ehrlich Road, and Hutchinson Road Interchanges, and the intersection of the Veterans Expressway with Dale Mabry Highway.
Study Purpose and Need
In June 2003, a Widening Planning Study was completed by FDOT Turnpike Enterprise. In this study, a review of traffic growth trends between 1996 and 2002 showed that traffic had increased by 73 to 234 percent along the corridor. Average annualized growth rates during that period ranged between 9.6 percent per year at the south end of the Veterans Expressway near SR 60 to 22.3 percent at the north end of the Veterans Expressway (north of Hutchinson Road). Based on this study, projected traffic volumes will greatly exceed the design capacity of the existing four-lane Veteran’s Expressway and the need to widen the facility is confirmed. The need for these improvements is also confirmed by recent traffic forecasts obtained from a Concept Traffic Analysis Technical Memorandum prepared by Turnpike planning staff in June 2004.
In January/February of 2004, an initial review of project alternatives was made. This effort culminated in a comparative analysis, ConTAC meeting, and meeting minutes. The findings in those efforts, as well as additional traffic data, lead to the selection of the options presented in this Project Concept Report as follows.
The proposed mainline typical section to be utilized for this project is an 8-lane section from north of the SR 60 Interchange to the Suncoast Parkway Interchange. This would include four 12-foot lanes with 12-foot shoulders in each direction. From the Suncoast Parkway Interchange to Dale Mabry Highway the existing 4-lane roadway would be milled and resurfaced only, traffic forecasts at this time do not indicate the demand for widening through year 2030.
The existing median on the Veterans Expressway is 46-feet, 7-inches. At the time of its original design, the outside shoulder criterion was 10 feet. The 46-feet, 7-inch median would allow widening on the inside to provide 6 through lanes without affecting the outside edge of pavement. The existing median will accommodate 2 12-foot through lanes, 2 10-foot shoulders and concrete barrier wall. The desirable shoulder width criterion has been increased from 10-feet to 12-feet. This would now require a 50-foot wide median to accommodate through-lane widening on the inside. Since the widening is needed on both sides of each roadway, the typical sections shown in this concept report reflect moving the inside edge of pavement outward to provide the standard inside shoulder widths. The PD&E shall also include the investigation and a discussion of the advantages/disadvantages of using 10-foot inside shoulders as originally planned for the widening of the Veterans Expressway. It is anticipated there may be possible traffic control benefits or possible flexibility with construction staging.
The existing interchanges are affected in varying ways. With the exception of the Linebaugh Avenue and the Wilsky Boulevard Interchanges, no new right-of-way is anticipated for interchange improvements. An alternative is provided at both the Linebaugh Avenue and the Wilsky Boulevard Interchanges. Alternatives analysis during PD&E is not limited to what is presented within this report.