Authority spends $1 million to clean up expressway

- The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority is spending about $1 million to pressure wash the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, causing nightly closures of the popular toll road.

The project began last week, to clean up the mess under the reversible roadway. Workers are using pressure washers to remove a decade of grit and grime buildup.

"Basically, it's just time. The reversible express lanes are over 10 years old. Maintenance is usually around the 10-year mark," said Sue Chrzan, with the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority.

Officials with the authority admit the $1 million cost to clean the 5-mile stretch is mostly about esthetics. Tolls pull around $62 million every year, so they say the cost is worth it for the added benefits of a 10-year checkup.

"That is an iconic structure. You do see it in brochures," Chrzan explained. "But anytime you clean something, you can make sure you [don't] see cracks forming. It's easier to inspect it."

During the project, which includes nightly closures from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., toll fees are being waved at 22nd Street and 50th Street.

The closures will continue for about five more weeks. And Lightning fans need not worry; eastbound lanes won't be closed on hockey nights.

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