A task force that will help decide the future of State Road 54 and State Road 56 has taken preliminary steps to set up a schedule and agree on a list of potential road designs meant to improve traffic along the busy corridors.
The 17-member task force will serve as advisory board to the Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization. It held an organizational meeting on April 20 at Rasmussen College, off State Road 54. About 25 people from the community were there, too.
This is the second of a three-part study to find traffic solutions to ease congestion, improve safety and increase mobility along the State Road 54/State Road 56 corridor — that is exploding with new development and increasing traffic.
The entire study area includes the corridor, from Bruce B. Downs Boulevard on the east to U.S. 19 on the west.
This phase of the study will focus primarily on two intersections: Little Road and State Road 54 in New Port Richey, and U.S. 41 and State Road 54 in Land O’ Lakes.
“We are reaching an important stage of development in this,” said Kris Hughes, the county’s planning and development director. “We are looking forward to what this process produces.”
Three meetings in total are planned in 2017. The second meeting will be in August, with a final meeting in October. At least two additional meetings are planned for 2018, but no dates are scheduled.
The task force replaces two previous task forces, each representing east and west sides of Pasco. They met during phase one of the project, and recommended six major highway and transit alternatives, five complementary alternatives and a no-build option.
The new task force will explore those options in more detail and whittle the list to three or four alternatives, and the no-build option.
“Do nothing? Well, that’s not going to work,” said task force member Jack Buckley.
Choices under review include designs for elevated lanes and redesigns at the ground level. Some options include dedicated lanes for buses and others don’t.
Sorting out how disruptive some designs can be to business and property owners will be a factor in choosing which direction to take, Buckley said.
Access on and off the roadway and the distances between on-off ramps are important, said Kim Brinkley-Seyer. She is principal of The Seyer Group in Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota.
“I am very concerned,” she said during public comment. “It is about moving people, but you have businesses and people along the way. That’s got to be a factor. You take the access, and it’s gone.”
Representatives from Pasco County Planning and Development, the county’s MPO, Florida Department of Transportation, and consultants from AECOM will assist in the study.
Published April 26, 2017