Apartments, highway to transform Gandy Boulevard

- At the Gandy Bait and Tackle Shop, they talk about fishing and the big changes just outside their front door. 

"What's this place going to look like in five years?" I asked Zack Robinson, who's selling bait to a customer. 

"Miami, Destin, and Ft. Lauderdale. We're running out of room so they start going up," he replied. 

Going up just across Gandy Boulevard is the massive Marina Pointe development.  Just down the street, crews are in the median testing the soil for a series of bridges that will carry traffic above this part of Gandy Boulevard, connecting the Gandy Bridge directly to the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. 

"And it still leaves the local lanes for the community in Gandy," said Sue Chrzan, spokesperson for the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority. 

For years, residents and businesses in the area opposed the elevated extension. Chrzan admits some are still against it, but she believes the 1.9-mile elevated extension has less impact than previous plans.

"We don't take any businesses and we don’t take any homes," she continued. 

The Selmon Extension will have a $1 toll in addition to other tolls on the Selmon to the east. Chrzan says no tax dollars will be used. She says tolls and bonds will be used to pay for the $230-million extension. 

Large piers will support a series of elevated bridges. They will look similar to the elevated Selmon between Tampa and Brandon. 

Chrzan says completion is planned for the fall of 2020. She says lanes are reversible and the Selmon Extension will become an important evacuation route when hurricanes threaten. 

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