Efforts resurface in quest to widen Old Pasco Road

The Long Range Transportation Plan now includes a project to widen a 7-mile stretch of Old Pasco Road, from State Road 52 to County Road 54, which is also known as Wesley Chapel Boulevard.

The widening had been included in the long-range plan as far back as 2014, but was subsequently dropped.

Now, it’s back in.

The Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization board unanimously approved adding the project to its Long Range Transportation Plan, during the MPO’s Jan. 17 meeting. The long-range plan includes projects within a 20-year time frame from 2020 to 2040.

 

Efforts have resurfaced in a quest to get two-lane Old Pasco Road widened to four lanes. No funding for the project has been identified yet. (File)

Ali Atefi, transportation engineer for Pasco’s MPO, explained the thinking behind the potential widening of two-lane Old Pasco Road, to four lanes.

“The benefit is to provide additional capacity for people — for safety mainly and also time-saving,” Atefi said.

The road now primarily serves motorists heading to their homes, or to Cypress Creek Middle High School.

But, future growth on Old Pasco Road includes the construction of a separate school for Cypress Creek Middle School students, a new Instructional Performing Arts Center and a future business park.

The county recently received a $3 million state grant for a county-initiated project known as the Overpass Business Park. The future business  park is less than a half-mile southeast of the intersection of Overpass and Old Pasco.

The next step toward widening Old Pasco would be to include the project within a five-year window for funding, Atefi said.

Construction for expanding Old Pasco Road was passed by MPO board members on Jan. 17. This came as a response to the road’s current traffic, and future plans to build businesses and another school.

Various sources are being explored for financing the project, Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore said.

“There’s grants that have to do with road construction,” he explained. “We’ll have to look at possibly going to our legislators and FDOT (the Florida Department of Transportation) to see what they can do.”

It’s a challenge, but one worth taking on, the commissioner added – emphasizing that safety is his No. 1 concern.

“There’s increased traffic, including school buses that are going up and down Old Pasco Road,” Moore said.

With this in mind, Moore advocates the addition of sidewalks, bike paths and medians, as part of the road’s improvement.

The commissioner also noted the potential congestion with the county’s plan to build an interchange on Overpass Road.

This separate project will allow motorists to get off of Interstate 75 by way of Overpass Road – intersecting with Old Pasco Road.

The first step toward pursuing the widening project includes the completion of route studies to analyze potential environmental impacts and road alignments. Once schematics are underway, the MPO will determine how much land is needed for the expansion, Atefi said.

It is too early in the process to tell what impacts construction will have on traffic, he added. However, as the project develops, a traffic maintenance plan will be implemented to address any detours.

Published February 13, 2019

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