Pinellas County's Gateway Express project worries drivers, businesses

12:53 AM, Feb 18, 2014   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- Mini stock racer Brittany Hart has the need for speed. It runs through her veins.

"I don't want to do any other sport. It's the only thing I'm good at. Grew up here all my life, and my father raced here."

With today's news of the Gateway Express Project advancement, Brittany could not imagine what she'd do if the Showtime Speedway were to close again. After all, the project already once shut down years ago from another construction project.

"It was pretty devastating."

The $338 million project will ultimately include an elevated expressway to link I-275 to U.S. 19 and I-275 to the St. Pete/Clearwater Airport and Bayside Bridge. Those with the project say it'll pave the way for light rail in the future and shave commute times for drivers by nine to thirteen minutes.

We asked at our WTSP 10 News Facebook page: what do you think of the project plans? The reactions are mixed. Some say it's worth it if the project will ease surface road congestion. Others are a little more skeptical, saying, "We'll deal with backed up traffic again on the Bayside Bridge. What is this really helping?!?"

Pointing on a map, Robert Yoho showed us where the construction will take place. He's the one who purchased Showtime back when it was the Sunshine track two years ago. 

The Gateway Express runs dangerously close to the property.

"We'll be inconvenienced, but when it's all said and done, we'll have to ... buy more property and figure out parking."

Yoho said while the track will need to close temporarily during initial phases of construction,  the project is the least of his worries for now.

"If you build it [the track] they will come. But when the weather person predicts rain, they won't come."

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