Complaints have persisted for years about traffic congestion at the intersection of U.S. 41 and State Road 54 in Land O’ Lakes.
There also have been on-again, off-again public discussions over the best solution for reducing traffic at the place where two of Pasco’s busiest roads meet.
State Road 54 runs east-west, and had an average daily traffic count of 63,000 in 2019, according to figures supplied by the Florida Department of Transportation.
U.S. 41 runs north-south, and had average daily traffic counts of 69,000 in 2019, according to state road officials.
On top of that, there’s new growth underway and future growth coming in Land O’ Lakes.
Plus, State Road 54 is an evacuation route when hurricanes threaten.
But, complaints about traffic congestion are likely to persist for some time, because even in a best-case scenario, any option for improvements is likely to be at least 10 years away from funding.
That’s according to a Feb. 11 presentation to the Pasco Metropolitan Planning Organization’s board by Craig Fox, a project manager for FDOT.
While a solution may be a long way off, the issue is expected to get public attention this year, as consideration is given to four alternatives being studied by state road officials.
Fox outlined those four options:
- Alternative 1: Two lanes of State Road 54, in each direction, are elevated over U.S. 41. Two frontage lanes run parallel to State Road 54, east-west. Additional lanes allow left and right turns to U.S. 41.
- Alternative 2: An at-grade intersection without elevated lanes. Left-turns occur prior to the main intersection, using a frontage road along the cross streets.
- Alternative 3: Two lanes of State Road 54 are elevated in each direction over U.S. 41. Left-turning traffic crosses over the opposing through traffic, several hundred feet before the major intersection.
- Alternative 4: No Build
While there’s no funding for construction until 2031, work continues to study the alternatives, Fox told the MPO board.
“We are currently working on concepts for all three build alternatives,” he said.
In evaluating the alternatives, Fox said, “we’re looking at the improvements based on traffic operations, safety costs, impacts, right of way impacts, also.
“From that we’re going to select a build alternative to carry into the PD&E (Project Design & Environmental Study) phase, and eventually the design phase,” he said.
He expects a public meeting on the alternatives to occur later this year, he said.
Once the alternative is chosen, the PD&E would be conducted in 2021 to 2022.
That would be followed by design, which would occur from 2022 to 2024.
And, after that, right of way acquisition would occur from 2025 to 2026.
Construction, however, would not start until 2031, Fox said.
“It actually got pushed out to 2031-2032, and that was kind of also due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the statewide budget.”
At the Pasco MPO board meeting, Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano told Fox: “I like that you’re doing all of the alternatives. The one that intrigues me the most is the flyover, going east-west, because I think that’s going to be critical. It’s as much a safety factor, with the rail line that goes north-south, and especially if the rail line is ever going to run up and down. That would be safer, as well as more efficient, for that rail line, as well.”
Fox said the FDOT is currently updating right of way costs affiliated with the three alternatives.
He said it will be up to the Pasco County MPO to determine when the Vision 54/56 Task Force will reconvene.
The public will be able to comment on the alternatives at the Alternative Public Meeting, which is expected in Summer of 2021. They also will be able to comment online and via mail, he said.
Published March 03, 2021