Traffic woes may lessen at 41/54

Some relief may be coming in 2018 to reduce the daily traffic jams at U.S. 41 and State Road 54.

Frustrations at the intersection are common, as more than 100,000 motorists pass through the intersection every day.

Pasco County and state highway officials are now looking at a plan to lessen congestion.

The plan calls for lengthening turn lanes, providing more room in those lanes to improve the general flow in through lanes.

A long line of eastbound vehicles on State Road 54 wait to make it through the traffic signal, or reach the right turn lane to head south on U.S. 41.
(Kathy Steele)

Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey talked about the turn-lane project during a recent Pasco County workshop.

Starkey said she’d learned of the project at a committee meeting for the county’s Metropolitan Planning Commission.

“I think that’s a huge step forward on our road projects,” Starkey said.

The project isn’t seen as a permanent solution, but as something that can be done in the near-term.

“It is a fix.” said Margaret Smith, Pasco’s engineering services director, adding she doesn’t know how long the fix will last.

Design work is expected to take about eight to 10 months, with construction likely in 2018. The county will spend about $300,000 on design, with money saved from other road projects, Smith said.

A funding source for the remainder of the project, estimated at around $1 million is being sought.

The redesign would include these changes, based on an email from the Florida Department of Transportation:

  • The right-turn lane eastbound on State Road 54 would increase from 215 feet to 1,050 feet. Eastbound dual left-turn lanes would increase from 350 feet to 750 feet. An additional 125 feet would be added to the outside left-turn lane for a total length of 875 feet.
  • Westbound on State Road 54, the right-turn lane at U.S. 41 would increase from 360 feet to 500 feet. The southbound dual left-turn lanes on State Road 54 already are at the maximum length.
  • Southbound on U.S. 41, the dual left-turn lane would increase from 430 feet to 475 feet. The southbound right-turn lane would increase from 320 feet to 475 feet.
  • No change is planned for the northbound U.S. 41 left- and right-turn lanes because they are at maximum length.

A permanent and more intense design change for the intersection remains uncertain.

Work will begin anew in March on the Vision 54/56 corridor study, which is looking at a range of road projects from U.S. 19 to Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

A first phase of the study was completed in 2016.

This second phase will place emphasis on ideas to improve the intersections of State Road 54 and U.S. 41 in east Pasco, and State Road 54 and Little Road in west Pasco.

Meanwhile, the state transportation department put an earlier proposal on hold to build a $180 million flyover elevating State Road 54 over U.S. 41, and including toll lanes.

The road project met strong resistance from residents at a town hall meeting in 2015.

Published February 22, 2017

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