New Gateway Expressway in Pinellas County, Florida Set to Open April 26

The long-awaited $600M Gateway Expressway in Pinellas, FL, opens on 4/26/2024, offering new tolled roads and express lanes to ease congestion and reduce commute times.

Emmanuel Abara Benson
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New Gateway Expressway in Pinellas County, Florida Set to Open April 26

New Gateway Expressway in Pinellas County, Florida Set to Open April 26

The long-awaited Gateway Expressway in Pinellas County, Florida, is scheduled to open on Friday, April 26, 2024. The $600 million project will connect U.S.

Highway 19 and Interstate 275, featuring new tolled roadways and express lanes designed to improve traffic flow and reduce commute times in the region.

The Gateway Expressway project includes two new toll roads: State Road 690 connecting I-275 to U.S. 19, and State Road 686A connecting I-275 to the Bayside Bridge. It also adds one express lane in each direction on I-275 from Gandy Boulevard to 4th Street North. "The express lanes will allow drivers to access US-19 or I-275 without signals, while the local business access will also have increased traffic capacity due to the toll road," stated the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

Toll rates for the Gateway Expressway will range from $0.28 to $0.86, depending on the section of the roadway. The tolls will be collected electronically via SunPass or TOLL-BY-PLATE, with no cash options available. FDOT announced that the first seven days of operation, from April 26 to May 3, will be toll-free to allow drivers to familiarize themselves with the new expressway.

Why this matters: The opening of the Gateway Expressway is expected to bring significant congestion relief and new travel route options to thousands of Tampa Bay area drivers. This project marks the first completed step of FDOT's Tampa Bay Next highway plan, which aims to add tolled express lanes across the region to accommodate population growth.

The Gateway Expressway project has been in the planning stages for over a decade, with construction beginning in 2017. Supply chain issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the project's timeline, pushing the opening date to April 2024. FDOT estimates that the new expressway will save drivers 10 to 15 minutes on their daily commutes, making it easier to access the St. Pete-Clearwater Airport and Tampa International Airport.

In anticipation of the opening, FDOT has created video animations to help the public understand the completed project and navigate the new roadways. "This project will have a beneficial effect on traffic flow in Pinellas County," said an FDOT spokesperson. The Gateway Expressway is anticipated to reduce traffic on surface streets, particularly in the area around St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, by separating local and through traffic.

Key Takeaways

  • Gateway Expressway in Pinellas, FL to open on April 26, 2024.
  • $600M project to connect US-19 and I-275 with new tolled roadways and express lanes.
  • Toll rates range from $0.28 to $0.86, with first 7 days toll-free.
  • Expressway is expected to reduce commute times by 10-15 minutes.
  • Part of FDOT's Tampa Bay Next plan to add tolled express lanes.