Pasco County now is on a path to widen County Road 54 — also known as Wesley Chapel Boulevard — to a six-lane divided road.
The move comes nearly 15 years after the county proposed widening the road from two lanes to four lanes.
The project also will include a multi-use trail on one side and a sidewalk on the other side.
No construction start date is announced, but the road’s design is about 90 percent complete.
The Pasco County Commission approved a road re-evaluation study on Aug. 9, which is the next step in what has been a drawn out process.
A 2003 study that looked at future traffic needs anticipated widening the road to four lanes. At the time, data showed that by 2025 slightly more than 20,000 vehicles a day would travel the corridor.
More recent data estimates that the average daily vehicles by 2040 will exceed 52,000.
“(The original study) didn’t capture all of the growth going on in this dynamic part of the county,” said Mike Campo, of Kisinger Campo & Associates. The Tampa-based engineering firm was hired in 2008 to provide design services for the road project.
The extra traffic lanes take into account the explosive growth at an intersection where State Road 54, State Road 56 and County Road 54 meet up. The intersection is just west of the Interstate 75 interchange.
All-around growth is evident at Tampa Premium Outlets, the soon-to-open Florida Hospital Center Ice sports complex and Holiday Inn Express, and the soon-to-rise Cypress Creek Town Center.
A newly announced project, Brightworks Crossing, could add a maximum of 350 apartments, offices, self-storage and a 150-room hotel on vacant land across from a planned entrance into Cypress Creek Town Center.
The mall’s developers currently are building the entrance as part of the initial roadwork to improve County Road 54.
As part of the study, residents weighed in with their opinions at a workshop held in January at Veterans Elementary School. They expressed frustrations with a road that no longer can handle the volume of motorists moving north and south along County Road 54.
Getting in and out of subdivisions, such as Stagecoach and Grand Oaks, means long waits and safety risks, they said.
“We are tired of playing Russian Roulette every time we leave or enter the subdivision (Grand Oaks),” wrote Robert Potts in a written comment from the workshop.
Beyond the mall entrance, the county plans to widen the corridor to six lanes to just north of Magnolia Boulevard. There will be 4-foot bicycle lanes, a median, 5-foot sidewalks on the eastern side, and an 8-foot multi-use trail on the western side.
No additional right of way will be purchased.
The widening will take advantage of rights of way donated to the county from Stagecoach and Grand Oaks subdivisions. Three traffic signals are planned at Stagecoach, at Grand Oaks near Veterans Elementary School, and at Cypress Creek Town Center.
Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore pressed for a traffic signal at Compark 75, an industrial park off Wesley Chapel Boulevard. Campo and Pasco County engineer Chris Wert said all intersections would be reviewed.
However, because Compark is less than a half-mile from the Grand Oaks signal, it isn’t certain the industrial park could meet distance requirements.
Compark currently is expanding its facilities, and Moore said nearby vacant land could be developed in the future.
“We’re talking basically about an employment center there,” Moore said. “People are going in and out of there on a daily basis.”
Published August 24, 2016