County Commissioner Diane Rowden this week urged motorists to be careful driving along construction-strewn State Road 50 and if possible, take alternate routes to avoid long delays.
Rowden noticed that the turn lane going into Sam's Club the other day was closed, causing backups and added congestion. But the lane was back open Tuesday afternoon.
That's the way it's going to be for the next two years while construction continues, said Kris Carson, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Transportation.
Motorists can expect lane shifts and closures at any time, Carson said.
The widening to six lanes on SR 50 between U.S. 19 and the Suncoast Parkway has forced motorists to slow down to 45 mph as they navigate through concrete barriers and work crews.
The project has also resulted in a massive clearing of trees west of Mariner Boulevard. At one spot, enough foliage has been removed to create a barren strip of land big enough for another highway.
And that is exactly what is being built, Carson said.
The project calls for retention ponds to be built on the south side of SR 50 and work crews will be building an access road allowing crews to reach the ponds for maintenance purposes.
"They had to cut down the trees to create ponds for drainage," Carson said.
Meanwhile, Carson said the project is proceeding on schedule.
FDOT's contractor, D.A.B. Constructors, is widening SR 50 between U.S. 19 and the Suncoast Parkway from a four-lane divided highway to six lanes.
That entails closing or changing some of the medians. However, FDOT has said it will monitor the traffic for congestion.
The $39 million project started in October and is expected to be completed in the summer of 2015.
"So far, so good," she said. "We haven't received any complaints."
Carson urged people to be extra cautious during the construction period.