Construction crews busy on area road projects

Anyone who drives around Pasco County on a regular basis knows there aren’t many east-west roads that cut through the county’s vast expanse, and that it isn’t   a bit unusual to have to wait in traffic.

There are a number of projects, however, that are in the works, on the drawing board, or have been recently completed that are aimed at making life easier for Pasco motorists.

Of course, as more development arrives, more drivers use local roads — so complaints about “too much traffic” and “not enough roads” may persist, at least for the foreseeable future.

But, here is a look at some of what’s happening on the local transportation scene.

A diverging diamond interchange is under construction at the Interstate 75/State Road 56 interchange. The project, expected to wrap up by late 2021, aims to keep traffic flowing at the busy interchange.

Diverging Diamond Interchange
The diverging diamond interchange, currently in development, will reconfigure the current interchange at Interstate 75 and State Road 56 to improve traffic flow at a location that frequently is bottlenecked, especially during peak traffic periods. Work on the $33 million project began in January 2019 and is expected to be completed by late 2021. For more details, visit FDOTTampaBay.com/project/262/430573-1-52-01.

Ridge Road Extension
Construction is expected to begin in January on the Ridge Road Extension, a project that Pasco County has been seeking to build for two decades. The project will create a third east-west corridor in the county, extending existing Ridge Road from Moon Lake Road in New Port Richey to the Suncoast Parkway, initially, and then to U.S. 41 in Land O’ Lakes. The extension will give drivers who are heading east or west across Pasco a new option. Currently, motorists heading east and west use State Road 52 or State Road 54. It also will be another evacuation route in the event of an emergency.

However, environmentalists have expressed concern about the project. The extension will run through the Serenova Tract of Starkey Wilderness Preserve. Tim Martin, chair of the Sierra Club Florida Conservation, said this will harm the preserve’s wetlands and its animals.

Phase one of the project costs an estimated $90 million. Phase two has not been funded yet. Construction completion is scheduled for the 2025-2026 timeframe.

State Road 54 widening, Zephyrhills to Wesley Chapel
State Road 54 is being widened from two lanes to four lanes, with a divided median, between Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills. The 4.5-mile stretch will run east of Curley Road to east of Morris Bridge Road. The $42.5-million development is expected to finish by the Summer of 2021.

Interstate 75/Overpass Road interchange
This project will create a new access point onto Interstate 75 at Overpass Road. The project includes widening Overpass Road — between Old Pasco Road and I-75 — from two lanes to four lanes. To the east, Overpass Road will be expanded to six lanes, between I-75 and Boyette Road. Off Overpass Road, Blair Drive will connect to Old Pasco Road, and Boyette Road will connect with McKendree Road. These connections with Overpass Road will create new access points between Wesley Chapel and Dade City.

A new State Road 52 corridor is expected to be built, branching off from the existing one. It will be another means of heading further east in Dade City.

New State Road 52 alignment
A new alignment of State Road 52 will provide a new way to travel east through Dade City. The new stretch of road will run south of the existing State Road 52. It will begin east of the Bayou Branch Canal and continue east to the intersection of Prospect Road and Clinton Avenue. Clinton Avenue will be widened to a four-lane road leading to Fort King Road. The existing State Road 52 also will be widened to four lanes between Uradco Place and the Bayou Branch Canal. At Bayou Branch Canal, the existing corridor will branch off into the new one.

Improvements completed in 2019 include:

Widening of State Road 52, from Bellamy Brothers to Old Pasco Road
A 1.5-mile stretch of State Road 52 has been widened from Bellamy Brothers Boulevard to Old Pasco Road. The road was widened from two lanes to four lanes, with a median. There also is a multi-use path on the north end of State Road 52 and a sidewalk on the south end. Construction on the $13.4 million project started in 2016.

State Road 56 extension
A new 6-mile extension of State Road 56 has created a new east-west corridor, between Meadow Pointe Boulevard in Wesley Chapel and U.S. 301 in Zephyrhills. The extension gives motorists an alternative to State Road 54, which also links the two communities. State Road 54 also is undergoing improvements. The State Road 56 extension is a four-lane road, divided by a median. It has a multi-purpose trail, a sidewalk and bicycle lanes. Traffic lights also were incorporated at Morris Bridge Road and U.S. 301.

The right turn and left turn lanes for eastbound traffic on State Road 54 onto U.S. 41 have been extended. The improvement aims to reduce traffic backups for motorists heading onto U.S. 41. (File)

State Road 54, turning lane improvements
The right-turn and left-turn lanes on State Road 54 have been lengthened to ease turning movements and reduce congestion. The $1.1-million project provides more room in the turning lane for motorists who are heading east on State Road 54 and intend to turn onto U.S. 41. The change reduces wait time for motorists turning north or south onto U.S. 41. Another improvement modified the median opening where State Road 54 intersects with Hunt Road. The change allows eastbound traffic on State Road 54 the option of turning onto Hunt Road or making a U-turn. It allows westbound traffic to turn off of Hunt Road, but motorists coming from that direction can no longer make U-turns.

Published January 08, 2020

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