The Florida Department of Transportation is hosting a meeting to gather public comments on a proposed overpass at the intersection of U.S. 41 and State Road 54.
The event, which includes an open house and formal presentation, will be on Dec. 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at Myrtle Lake Baptist Church, at 2017 Riegler Road in Land O’ Lakes.
The presentation will be made at 6:30 p.m. The state is seeking public comment on two recommended options to address traffic problems at the intersection.
Both options would elevate State Road 54 over U.S. 41, and would require relocating some businesses and purchasing land for the project.
Businesses that could be in the path of the roadwork include Tibbetts Lumber Co., the CVS pharmacy, MCOR Automotive, a discount mattress shop, and Pinch A Penny patio and pool supply shop.
The state department of transportation is conducting a study to evaluate the project before settling on the design and type of improvements for the intersection. The study’s completion date is spring 2016.
Area business owners and the Central Pasco Chamber of Commerce had hoped for additional opportunities to discuss the matter.
On Oct. 30, the chamber sent a letter to the state agency requesting a public workshop. Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore also brought up the request at a Nov. 12 meeting of the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization.
State transportation officials were at that meeting to present the 2015 priority list for county road projects.
However, they said the public hearing is the only meeting on the schedule.
“Sometimes with workshops you have more time to discuss an issue than at a public hearing,” said Elayne Bassinger, president of the Central Pasco Chamber. And, area business owners, she said, “want an opportunity to speak.”
No one doubts that improvements are needed at the heavily travelled intersection.
According to the state transportation department, the intersection’s crash rate is higher than the state average.
About 99,000 vehicles per day travel through the intersection, but by 2040, state highway officials predict an estimated 208,000 vehicles per day.
Both highways are part of the county’s evacuation route, and they also are regional roadways for trucks that deliver goods to and from Tampa International Airport, Port Tampa Bay and Port Manatee.
One alternative would cost about $160 million in total, including about $91 million for more than 70 acres of rights of way. More than 40 parcels, including existing businesses at the intersection, would be affected. About 24 businesses could be relocated, according to state transportation data.
The new interchange would provide four through lanes on U.S. 41 in each direction, two through lanes at-grade and two elevated lanes on State Road 54.
The other alternative would cost about $180 million in total, including about $50 million for nearly 30 acres of rights of way. About 20 parcels would be involved, but only six businesses would be relocated, according to state data.
Under this option, no additional lanes would be added to U.S. 41, and turn lanes would not change. There would be two through lanes at-grade and two elevated through lanes on State Road 54.
Draft documents describing the project are available to the public through Dec. 21 at the Land O’ Lakes Branch Library, at 2818 Collier Parkway in Land O’ Lakes. They also can be viewed at the state transportation department’s District Seven office at 11201 N. McKinley Drive in Tampa.
Statements, and exhibits and oral comments, will be accepted at the hearing. Also, all exhibits or statements must be postmarked or emailed no later than Dec. 21 to be part of the official public hearing record. A court reporter also will be available at the hearing for one-on-one comments.
Send statements to Kirk Bogen, Environmental Management Engineer, FDOT, District Seven, 11201 N. McKinley Drive MS 7-500, Tampa, FL 33621-6456.
Published December 2, 2015