By Kyle LoJacono
Projects to extend Collier Parkway and widen Bruce B. Downs Boulevard were each completed in the last few weeks.
“Both these projects have been in the works for years,” said Pasco County Chief Project Manager Robert Shepherd. “Each will help with the increased traffic from more people moving into the county.”
Collier Parkway extension
Collier Parkway in Land O’ Lakes was extended 1.8 miles north through Hale Road and connected with Parkway Boulevard to take drivers off both Parkway, which goes through neighborhoods, and US 41, which is highly congested.
The project will let residents in the surrounding neighborhoods reach SR 54 without leaving Collier.
The much delayed Collier extension was first scheduled for completion last April, but the original contractor, WDG Construction, was released from its contract with Pasco in part for falling behind schedule. Ripa & Associates took over the job last September.
The project cost the county $4.3 million and is the first two of three phases to take Collier north to connect with Ehren Cutoff. The last segment will not be built until 2015 or 2016, according to program administrator for Pasco Engineering Services Deborah Bolduc.
Left was Bruce B. Downs Boulevard a few months ago. The widened highway, seen right, is now six lanes from Hillsborough County to SR 54.
Bruce B. Downs widening
The widening project of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in Wesley Chapel, also known as either CR 581 or SR 581 depending on the location, is completed and illustrates the growth of the community.
The road was widened from Hillsborough County north to just south of SR 54, a stretch of just more than four miles. Bruce B. Downs now is a six-lane divided highway throughout the stretch with multiple turning lanes where it intersects with SR 56.
Shepherd said the intersection with SR 56 is one of the busiest in the county.
“We don’t know exactly how many cars drive through there each day, but it’s a lot,” Shepherd said. “That area has seen an increase in traffic flow during the last few years because a lot of large neighborhoods have opened.”
With those neighborhoods along Bruce B. Downs is the site of the future Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel. The facility broke ground last December and will be completed in mid-2012.
Shepherd said the $17 million widening project was paid for by Crown Development, the development company that built several of the surrounding neighborhoods.
I-75/I-275 alignment shifts
The traffic pattern near the I-75, I-275 junction has shifted in preparation for the widening for I-275 and improvements to off ramps on I-75.
“The main thing for motorists to keep in mind is that the area in which they have to enter onto I-75 or exit to SR 56 is shorter than before the shift,” said John McShaffrey, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) public information officer.
The shift means northbound drivers on I-275 traveling to I-75 have a shorter distance to merge left to reach the SR 56 exit. The same is true for northbound traffic on I-75, but instead, drivers have less time to merge right to get to SR 56.
“This shorter merge area for I-75 and I-275 traffic is temporary,” McShaffrey said. “It should last six to eight weeks, then return to the same alignment as before the traffic shift occurred.”
For more information on the project, visit myTBI.com.
//SR 52/Prospect Road improvements
The project to upgrade the intersection of SR 52 and Prospect Road in Saint Leo began March 14 when Pepper Contracting Services Inc. started moving utility lines and pipes.
The job will add turn lanes in all directions at the intersection, along with new pavement, signage and drainage improvements, according to program administrator for Pasco Engineering Services Deborah Bolduc. It is designed to make the area safer and improve traffic flow.
The project costs $2.9 million, which is being paid for with Penny for Pasco money. Bolduc said there will be lane shifts and potential lane closures during night road work. The job is set for completion on Dec. 8.