Funding moves Morningside extension forward

A $5 million allocation from the state is bringing the extension of Morningside Drive — to connect U.S. 301 to Fort King Road in Dade City — a step closer to becoming reality.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ approval of the allocation in this year’s budget came as reassuring news to Dade City and Pasco County.

Officials believe the extension will yield numerous benefits.

“We’re anticipating it will reduce traffic volume on the roadways that are parallel,” said Leslie Porter, city manager of Dade City. “We’re also anticipating that [it] will drive our economic development by providing that connector.”

The extension also provides direct access to AdventHealth Dade City, on Fort King Road, which was considered as a top priority for the road’s extension.

“In addition to the hospital serving the citizens, we’re seeing that it will greatly improve public safety access for our police and fire rescue services,” Porter said.

DeSantis’ approval also was seen as a victory for Dade City because former Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the proposed funding last year.

Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez also advocated for the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization to put the project on its funding list.

The county’s Long Range Transportation Plan has the road designed as two lanes, but it may be widened to four lanes by 2040, according to Porter.

An alignment study has been done, but additional studies to collect current data must be done before a construction time frame can be set.

Published July 10, 2019

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