Long-term planning efforts continue for Pasco’s roads

Pasco County’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will adopt a new plan, in December, pushing forward its long-term agenda for the county’s road system.

Its 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan gives an overview of what roadway modifications could be made within a 20-year span.

Wally Blain of Tindale Oliver and Kasey Cursey of AECOM, consultants who work alongside the county’s MPO, explained some highlights of the 2045 plan at a luncheon hosted by the Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce, on Oct. 8.

Some key projects include:

  • Widening State Road 52 to six lanes, from the Suncoast Parkway to U.S. 41
  • Widening State Road 52 to four lanes from U.S. 41 to Old Pasco Road
  • Widening U.S. 41 to four lanes, from its intersection with State Road 52, heading south to Connerton Boulevard
  • Extending Ridge Road, from Moon Lake Road to the Suncoast Parkway
  • Constructing a new State Road 52 alignment, east of Interstate 75, to connect with Clinton Avenue

Improvements on State Road 54 also are planned, but how to proceed has not yet been determined.

While State Road 54 continues to be an ever-congested corridor, especially at the intersection with U.S. 41, the roadway may see new improvements in Pasco County’s 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan. (Brian Fernandes)

“We know that State Road 54 is a huge priority for the county,” Blain said. “There’s been much discussion about what would be the preferred solution or strategy for State Road 54.”

The map indicates that the Vision 54/56 plan will be evaluated for potential transit improvements, overpasses, elevated lanes and alternative intersection designs.

“[The] county and DOT (Department of Transportation) are working on the coordination of traffic signals on State Road 54,” Blain noted.

However, there are no plans to widen State Roads 54 and 56 respectively, from U.S. 41 to U.S. 301, according to the map.

Blain said: ”What we’re doing in the plan is we’re setting aside the money to do the project, and as those studies are completed, implementation can begin to happen right away.”

Currently, there is $395 million set aside for Vision 54/56 studies and improvements.

The long-range plan also proposes revamping the county’s public transportation system. That includes adding Sunday services, increasing the frequency for bus pickups and drop offs, and extending services to as late as 11:30 p.m.

“The MPO is a federally funded and mandated organization. It’s required in large metropolitan areas to do the transportation planning – where will people live and where will jobs exist, according to our crystal ball, by the year 2045,” Blain said.

Based on those projections, schematics of Pasco County were drawn showing potential road connections and widenings, as well as improvements to the transit system, he said.

Pasco County residents were surveyed in 2018 to get feedback on the MPO’s proposed plans. About 1,600 surveys were received.

Needs were identified, and then, he said, “we look at our revenues and what can we afford based on our expected revenue streams.”

Another survey was conducted for additional public feedback over the summer, to consider practical suggestions that could be implemented in the MPO’s cost-affordable plan.

While Pasco County’s transportation system receives appropriations from the federal and state levels, it also collects revenue from the county’s Penny for Pasco surtax.

The program raises funds through a one-penny surcharge for every dollar of sales tax collected by the county.

Of the portion allocated to the county, 18% goes toward transportation.

The 2045 long-range plan calls for the renewal of the Penny for Pasco program after 2024, as it currently stands.

Transportation revenues collected from federal, state and county levels are projected to exceed $7 billion from 2025 to 2045, Blain said.

Every five years, the Long Range Transportation Plan is reevaluated for potential modifications.

The 2045 plan would see slight allocation increases to specific projects in contrast to the 2040 plan.

Here are some specifics:

  • Road capacity would receive 69%, compared to 64%
  • Sidewalks and bicycle facilities would receive 3%, compared to 1%
  • Technology and congestion management also would receive 3%, compared to 1%
  • Roadway maintenance would receive 15%, compared to 9%

But, Blain also noted that transit projects would see a decline from 25% to 10%.

That decrease is due to the MPO’s assumption that there will not be any new local taxes or revenues generated toward transportation, Blain added.

The public is encouraged to engage in a 30-day comment period, starting on Nov. 1.

For more information or to give comment feedback, please visit MobilityPasco.com.

MPO public workshops
New Port Richey Public Library, 5939 Main St., in New Port Richey (Nov. 5 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.); Pasco County Historic Courthouse, 37918 Meridian Avenue in Dade City (Nov. 6 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.); The Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive in Wesley Chapel (day/time to be announced).
Cost: Free
Details: The Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization will unveil and explain to guests its roadway projections for 2025 to 2045.
Info: Visit MobilityPasco.com.

Published October 16, 2019

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