There typically aren’t a lot of pedestrians making their way along North Dale Mabry Highway just south of County Line Road. But that doesn’t mean there might not be someday.
Work is starting to wrap up on a sidewalk construction project along both sides of the highway between Van Dyke and County Line roads that has created delays on North Dale Mabry for weeks. It’s part of an overall road-resurfacing project designed to make the drive smoother for traffic coming into — and out of — Pasco County.
“It’s pretty much our policy that when we go in and resurface a road, where applicable, we’ll put in sidewalks and we’ll put in bike lanes where needed,” said Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kris Carson. “The Florida area, especially Tampa Bay, has been hit really hard with pedestrian fatalities and bicycle fatalities. This is one way to help prevent that.”
The overall project costs $5 million over 3.6 miles. The sidewalks account for $590,000 of that total, while boardwalks in certain places are just under $390,000.
Although some subdivisions exist along North Dale Mabry, the primary residents along the road are actually businesses. That includes a shopping center on the corner of North Dale Mabry and Lutz Lake Fern Road.
The businesses along the route typically have their own parking, and pedestrian traffic isn’t exactly encouraged. But building sidewalks might attract more people to go by foot, especially now that there’s solid ground away from fast-moving traffic, Carson said.
In 2011, 4,432 pedestrians and 677 cyclists were killed across the country, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The numbers are slowly dropping, thanks in part to a bigger focus on pedestrian safety along roads, Carson said. That’s especially true for cyclists, where annual fatalities were well more than 800 during the 1990s.
In a nine-year span last decade, cars and trucks in the Tampa Bay area killed more than 900 pedestrians and cyclists, according to a 2011 study from the group Transportation for America. The region trailed only Orlando in total deaths during that time.
The North Dale Mabry project started in July, and should be done by spring. For more information on the project, call (813) 612-3300, or email .
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