No regional transportation solution is in sight for Tampa Bay, but construction crews are busy on projects aimed at increasing roadway capacity and improving traffic flow.
David Gwynn, secretary for District Seven of the Florida Department of Transportation, shared highlights of work that’s been recently completed, is underway or is planned for the future — during a recent North Tampa Bay Chamber luncheon, in Land O’ Lakes.
“Central Florida and the Tampa region seem to be the fastest-growing in the state right now,” Gwynn said.
Within FDOT’s District Seven, Pasco County is growing at a faster clip than Hillsborough, Pinellas, Citrus and Hernando counties, Gwynn said.
District Seven and Pasco County have collaborated on a number of projects in recent years and because of those partnerships, several projects have been completed, or are underway, Gwynn said.
A number of additional improvements also are planned for the area, Gwynn said.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights.
The Diverging Diamond interchange, at State Road 56 and Interstate 75
This project creates a new way for motorists to enter and exit I-75 and to make their way across State Road 56, which is a primary artery providing access to shopping malls, restaurants, businesses, residences and schools.
Gwynn told the luncheon crowd: “I sweated this out for a long time, when the contractor defaulted. I was like, ‘How are we going to get this thing built?’
“I know it was painful for people out there, and the businesses,” he said.
But he added: “It appears that it is working well. I think it moves a lot of traffic.
Overpass Road interchange at I-75
“One thing unique about this project is that it was paid for by Pasco County,” Gwynn said, while FDOT completed the engineering and provided oversight for the construction.
“It was a great partnership on that project,” Gwynn said.
Projects in progress
Realignment of State Road 52, from Uradco Place to U.S. 301
The first two lanes (one heading in each direction) recently opened and work continues on the other two lanes. The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The old alignment took motorists along a meandering path past San Antonio, through St. Leo and through Dade City. The new alignment offers a more direct route.
With the opening of the new alignment, the former State Road 52 has been renamed County Road 52.
State Road 54, from Curley Road to Morris Bridge Road
“That project was another one where the contractor defaulted. It took us a little longer to get a replacement contractor on that one. That should be completed later this year,” Gwynn said.
U.S. 41 and State Road 54
This major intersection has been congested for years, as motorists head north and south through Land O’ Lakes on U.S. 41, and east and west through the community, on State Road 54.
Currently, FDOT is looking at building a bridge over the intersection to reduce congestion.
“We’re not sure if it is (State Road) 54 over (U.S.) 41 or (U.S.) 41 over (State Road) 54. That still has to be determined,” Gwynn said. “What that will do is really increase the capacity of that intersection.”
No funding has been earmarked for the project yet, but once a decision is made on the final plan, the district will be trying to move that project forward, Gwynn said.
State Road 56 southbound exit to I-75/I-275
As it stands now, motorists heading south from State Road 56 have to weave across lanes of traffic, if they want to head south on I-75. The improvement will make it easier for motorists to head either toward I-275 or toward I-75.
That project is currently in design, with construction expected in a few years.
“If we can advance it, we will. I think that will help improve the traffic flow and crash history in that area,” Gwynn said.
State Road 52, from U.S. 41 to Bellamy Brothers Boulevard
Funding has been secured, Gwynn said.
“We’re designing it and buying the right of way and then we’ll start construction on that in a few years.”
Traffic signal at Lake Patience Road and U.S. 41
That project is expected to be constructed this summer.
Bruce B. Downs Boulevard improvements
Another local project involves improvements to Bruce B. Downs Boulevard that include the installation of a new traffic signal at Eagleston Boulevard, as well as median and turn lane improvements. The completion date on that work was estimated for Spring 2023.
Plans also call for resurfacing Bruce B. Downs to south of Eagleston Boulevard, expected to occur around 2026.
The district secretary also shared some big-picture plans to improve transportation in the region. Those projects that are planned or underway include a new bridge for the Howard Frankland Bridge; rebuilding the Westshore interchange; and, increasing the capacity and accessibility at the I-275 and I-4 interchange.
Published March 22, 2023