Construction on the US-301 bypass around Starke completed

STARKE, Fla. (WCJB) -- Drivers passing through Bradford County will breathe a sigh of relief now that construction on US-301 bypass is completed.

Construction began in late 2016 with the goal of easing truck congestion in Starke.

"I remember a gentleman from FDOT said look by the time that thing finally gets here you'll be glad it's here and that day is here," said Sheriff Gordon Smith, Bradford County.

The Florida Department of Transportation announced that US-301 bypass around Starke is officially completed.

"We started construction about 3 years ago and thankfully we were able to open last night," said Troy Roberts, FDOT spokesperson.

Having an alternate route bypass through Starke has been a discussion for decades between FDOT and the county.

And the sheriff's office was at the grand opening and the first to drive the new route.

"It's like a new restaurant everybody has to check it out," said Smith.

This new route is about 7 miles long and wraps around the city of Starke to help relieve truck congestion.

"Depending on where you at on US-301 on Starke I mean there are more than about 25,00 vehicles a day," said Roberts.

And that's the reason why Sheriff Smith is considering public safety as the top concern.

"Whereas now the speeds are going to be much greater at 55 picking up to 65 in the greater part of that bypass area, so when you do have an accident it's going to be much serious. I think there's going to be fewer accidents but the accidents we get are going to be more serious," said Smith.

Although the bypass is open drivers should still watch for construction crews as they finish up the project.