It took years to come to fruition, but today, Sept. 24, marks the moment, which will be punctuated by a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled to take place at 10 a.m.
Should the weather allow for such an occasion, the ceremony will be attended to by Hillsborough County Commissioners, along with representatives of the Westfield Brandon mall and Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce.
In attendance, too, will be Matt Booker, project manager for QGS Development, the group hired to construct the extension.
"It's been a labor of love," he said in an interview, about the approximately half-mile extension that cost roughly $4 million to build, funded by the Community Investment Tax. "It is very exciting because I live in the area and this will help clear some of the traffic that goes through the Westfield Brandon mall. Being able to connect Gornto Lake Road to State Road 60 [Brandon Boulevard] is huge."
In the attached video, Booker talks more about the "big deal" the road extension will be for Westfield Brandon shoppers and the surrounding area. In a preview drive he gave for Patch last week, Booker added: "It's a nice drive, the way the road sweeps and turns through the area."
Booker said when his crews first showed up to the site, "it was primarily a swamp," and that the first task, "a big ordeal," was to raise the site above the water table.
With wetlands mitigation on one side of the road, and the back end of Hillsboro Memorial Gardens on the other side, Booker said it's not likely there will be "any opportunities for businesses on either side of the road."
What you will see, he added, are lots of stately trees and natural landscapes.
"It's a nice drive, a nice walk," Booker said. "It's different from what you see in the surrounding areas."
Earlier Patch Report:
County spokesperson Steve Valdez said county officials had not expected the road extension to be completed "until October or November," but with no need to adjust traffic during construction, "we're coming in way early and it's so nice."
That means the holiday traffic you hate near the Westfield Brandon shopping mall? That short-cut you seek off State Road 60 in Brandon and Bloomingdale Avenue in Riverview? Good news for you.
When the dust is cleared on the Gornto Lake Road extension, motorists will have a straight shot from Brandon Boulevard (State Road 60) to Lumsden Road, then on to Bloomingdale Avenue and to U.S. Highway 301, using the Duncan Road/Krycul Avenue segment.
"It's nice to have another north-south roadway that goes so far, for motorists to take," Valdez said in an earlier interview. "This will be a new north-south connector that's been badly needed."
As for what this will mean for the vacant lands at the southwest and southeast corners of Gornto Lake Road and Town Center Boulevard, expect to see more stores and offices, with sale or lease arrangements being sought by the Eshenbaugh Land Company on behalf of Westfield.
As for the Gornto Lake Road extension, Valdez said it completes Gornto Lake Road work that began some 10 to 15 years ago with the development of the area.
"When Providence Lakes was built, part of the development plan was they had to build a part of the road," Valdez said. "And then when another development came, they had to build a part of the road [and so on]. The last part of [the road construction] was left up to us to do."
With the county's work done on the road extension, he added, "you will be able to go from the Home Depot on [U.S. Highway] 301 all the way to State Road 60."
More On Gornto Lake Road
At a cost of $3.95-million, Hillsborough County officials are constructing 0.738 miles of a four-lane divided roadway with turn lanes, "from south of Brandon Boulevard to approximatley 800 feet south of [Brandon] Town Center Bouleveard."
Construction started in October and was expected to take "365 calendar days."
In an earlier Brandon Patch report, we asked readers what they thought about the road extension. "I think the Gornto Lake [Road extension] will be a GREAT help to mall access. Whoever had the idea to start out using only one entrance to the mall was not too bright," wrote Debbie Shelton.
"I agree that this was a necessary addition to Brandon's map," wrote Liz Campbell. "I sincerely hope that it will not have any ill effects due to the loss of wetlands."
Added Jen Frost: "I am hoping this extension helps alleviate some of the congestion. Poor planning in the past has led to inconsistent and incongruent roadway infrastructure all throughout Brandon. I like that this extension has large pedestrian walkways, also. It should be a nice addition to the Brandon Parkway paths. I guess we'll see in the fall."
After we posted More Stores, Offices Sought For Westfield Brandon Area, we heard some concern that with additional development congestion would return.
As one reader put it: "They built the new road to take away some of the traffic congestion from the mall and then they want to add more stores for more congestion? They just can't help themselves can they? Empty land, must build something."
Still, other readers had more to say about what they would like to see developed on the vacant acreage, with suggestions including Old Navy, Trader Joe's, Pei-Wei and Williams-Sonoma.
- See Gornto Lake Road Extension - Hillsborough County Governmentfor project details and an aerial map of the work under way with tags denoting existing development, wetlands, ponds and mitigation areas.
- See County To Extend Gornto Lake Road To Relieve Traffic Near Brandon Mall (ABC Action News)
What are your views of the Gornto Lake Road extension? Have you been waiting for years to use it? Was it necessary to improve your quaility of life in the Greater Brandon area? Do you have any concerns? Let us know in the comment box below.
More to come.