The Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will be identifying its list of priority projects at its June 10 meeting.
The list includes projects that are included on the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) from 2022 to 2027, which includes projects that are funded and those not yet funded.
The list also includes projects that are not part of the TIP, but are considered to be priorities by the MPO, which is responsible for updating the priority list, which in turns provides guidance to the Florida Department of Transportation, in developing its developing its tentative work program.
During a workshop session, MPO Executive Director Carl Mikyska explained: “The first year of the TIP is actually part of the proposed budget. That means the Legislature has actually adopted the list of projects.
“At this point, the budget has been passed by the Legislature. I do not believe it has been signed by the governor.
“While years two through five are considered for planning purposes, you can consider them to be fairly solid planning. A project in year two is likely to then advance next year into the first year and be part of the proposed budget. DOT has to work on a cash flow basis. If their cash flow rises or falls, due to fluctuations in the economy, you may see minor changes to it.
“DOT does not put projects in year two, year three, etc., that they do not intend to advance forward,” he said.
“Projects in the TIP include Florida DOT projects, as well as our local projects, and this is a federal requirement.
“The projects cover the whole gamut from safety, all of the way down to capacity improvements,” Mikyska said.
“Those projects are based on our priorities here at the MPO, as well as the ones for the region,” he said.
Mikyska identified some of the significant projects that are included in the five-year plan.
Within The Laker/Lutz News coverage area, these include:
- State Road 52, from east of U.S. 41 to Ehren Cutoff
“Construction is scheduled in 2026. Right of way is in there from Ehren Cutoff to Bellamy Brothers Road, and while we do note that construction is not funded, I do note for our board that the DOT does not purchase right of way for projects they have no intention of building.
“I would anticipate that that would appear as a construction project in one of future TIPs.
- State Road 52, at North 21st Street, from Church Avenue to Suwannee, in Dade City
A roundabout is scheduled for construction in 2026.
- State Road 52, at College Avenue/Pompanic
A roundabout is scheduled for design/build in 2023.
- State Road 52 from Meridian Avenue, from west of Storch Lane to U.S. 98/U.S. 301, in 2022
- U.S. 301 to Hillsborough County line, south of State Road 39, in 2023
- State Road 54, from U.S. 41 to Knights Road, in 2023.
- U.S. 41, from the Hillsborough County line to Bell Lake Road, in 2023
- U.S. 301, from Tucker Road to Pretty Pond Road, in 2024
- State Road 56, Willow Oak Drive to The Shops at Wiregrass mall entrance, 2023
- State Road 56, at The Shops at Wiregrass entrance to Meadow Pointe Boulevard, 2023
Pedestrian and bicycle projects
- State Road 54, from west of Mitchell Place Plaza entrance to Marathon Drive — a complete streets project, in 2023
- School Road, from Community Center to U.S. 41 — a multi-use path, 2026
- Orange Belt, in 2025
Those were just some of the highlights, Mikyska said, noting the projects range from aviation to planning.
MPO board members raised some questions about projects that are part of the list, but not necessarily in the order they’d like to see them in.
Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez said she’s disappointed that the roundabout planned in Dade City is not expected to be constructed until 2026.
“We were told, not too long ago, that we were looking at a 2024 date.
“I just found out from staff yesterday that it was moved from 2024 to 2026 for construction,” Hernandez said.
The planned roundabout in St. Leo/San Antonio is equally needed, Hernandez said; she just wishes the one in her community had not been pushed back.
Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey asked if it would make sense to do the Meridian roundabout sooner than the one at College Avenue and Pompanic, which is slated for 2023.
However, a staff member of the DOT told the MPO that the shift to 2026 was related to design and right of way issues.
Starkey offered an optimistic thought: “When the Clinton Avenue extension opens, maybe we’ll see a drop in the traffic there. So, maybe that will help a little bit.”
Starkey also asked: “Did you show the 54/41 (State Road 54/U.S. 41) fix anywhere on here?”
Jensen Hackett, of FDOT, told Starkey the project is partially funded for right of way through 2025.
It is not yet clear how FDOT will proceed at that intersection, he added.
“I believe that they’re waiting for a couple of the traffic data to come in,” he said.
Starkey said that intersection needs to be addressed.
“That’s of great interest to everybody in the county,” she said.
Starkey added: “Of course, we think that when Ridge Road opens up, that will eliminate some of the suffering down there.”
Starkey also asked about the status of the design for an overpass that is planned at State Road 54 and the Suncoast Parkway.
Tina Russo, of the MPO’s staff, told Starkey: “We’re finishing up the preliminary design.”
In addition to the TIP, there’s also a long list of priority projects that do not yet have an identified source of funding.
Published May 19, 2021