Charlie Crist holds golden shovel

The largest road construction project in Florida history is now officially under way. Top federal and state officials mark the occasion Friday, Feb. 26, 2010, with a ceremonial groundbreaking. Gov. Charlie Crist and other dignitaries turn the dirt. Amy Beth Bennett, Sun Sentinel (Amy Beth Bennett / Sun Sentinel / February 27, 2010)

Gov. Rick Scott visits Broward on Friday for a ribbon cutting ceremony for a project that opened two days ago -- and that started under his predecessor former Gov. Charlie Crist.

He’s the headliner for what his office, and transportation officials, are billing as a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the project that added reversible toll lanes to Interstate 595 between Fort Lauderdale and Weston.

The lanes opened to traffic Wednesday afternoon, so the governor and other dignitaries can’t go out on the highway for their event. Instead, the ceremony will be at the Davie Police Department.

The $1.2 billion makeover of I-595 started under Crist. At the time he was the Republican governor. He’s since become a Democrat and is seeking his new party’s nomination to challenge Republican Scott for his old job.


Photos: People-watching at Miami Swim Week

The groundbreaking, in February 2010, attracted a bipartisan cast of politicians, including Crist, to hoist shovels. In the picture above, the mostly Democratic crowd includes (from left) then federal highway official Victor Mendez, Crist, an unidentified person to Crist’s left, Davie Mayor Judy Paul, then-state Rep. (now County Commissioner) Marty Kiar, Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis,  Weston Mayor Daniel Stermer, and what appears to be the right side of Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler's head.

The guest list for Friday’s event hasn’t been announced. The two most prominent Democrats whose constituents are affected by the I-595 project won’t be there.

Aides to U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Lois Frankel, whose districts encompass the expressway, said their bosses have scheduling conflicts.

At the ceremonial groundbreaking, Crist said the project would create as many as 30,000 jobs at a time when Florida's economy needed an economic boost. "The best way to fix the economy is get people back to work," he said.

The financing scheme didn’t give the contractor any money until project completion. The plan called for it to receive $685 million over seven years, followed by $63.98 million over 30 years as long as the road is open and meets state standards.

The total project cost was $1.8 billion, including the contractor's costs to maintain the highway over the next 35 years.