By B.C. Manion
The intersection of US 41 and SR 54 — familiar to more than 100,000 motorists each day — could be getting an entirely new look.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is looking at two options of elevating US 41 over SR 54 and two options of elevating SR 54 over US 41, said FDOT spokeswoman Kris Carson. The elevated options are being considered because future traffic volumes are expected to be too great to leave the intersection as is, she said.
Besides the intersection itself, the study area includes areas adjacent to both US 41 and SR 54.
If the department decides to do an improvement, it will likely need to acquire property because of the limited amount of land it now owns at the location, Carson said.
According to the state’s traffic figures, 51,000 vehicles pass through the intersection daily on SR 54, while 52,000 do the same by using US 41.
The state’s study is in the project development and environmental (PD&E) phase of a five-step highway development process, according to a newsletter roadway officials distributed to more than 750 property owners and interested parties in the area.
The need for the project is based on future traffic demands as the area’s population and employment grows. The goal of the study is to identify ways to improve the movement of people and goods by reducing congestion and improvement roadway capacity, the newsletter states.
Besides being a primary hurricane evacuation route, SR 54 provides connections to several north-south routes, including US 19, the Suncoast Parkway, US 41, I-75, US 301 and US 98.
During the PD&E phase, feasible alternatives are developed and evaluated based on environmental, engineering and socioeconomic conditions, as well as safety needs and public input. The need for additional right-of-way purchases for stormwater and environmental mitigation are also considered, the newsletter states.
The study can lead to various alternatives, or could result in a decision not to make any changes.
Before choosing an alternative, the state does an evaluation to determine which alternative has the least impact on adjacent properties, Carson said.
If the decision is made to proceed, the next phase is the project design phase. After that, the right-of-way is acquired and the project is built.
Throughout the process, there are opportunities for public involvement. The first public meeting will be in summer 2013. Comments and questions are welcome.
For additional information, call Marian Scorza at (813) 976-6038 or email her at .