A resurfacing project will give motorists a smoother ride along a 6-mile stretch of U.S. 301 — one of Dade City’s busiest commercial corridors.
But there is a new travel lane opening for pedestrians and bicyclists, too. Work on the $12.5 million project should be finished by spring 2016.
As motorists whiz past on the new asphalt, pedestrians and bicyclists can stroll or pedal along a parallel 10-foot wide multi-use trail.
Previously, road construction usually meant only new asphalt or more traffic lanes for motorized vehicles.
But transportation plans these days often build in multiple modes of travel from Point A to Point B, and places in between.
This project is one of several upcoming initiatives to develop master plans to guide new development, transportation, and parks and recreation.
Pasco County officials asked the Florida Department of Transportation for the trail. It is more often the case that 5-foot wide sidewalks are installed when roads are repaved, said Allen Howell, a bicycle and pedestrian planner with the Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The organization reviews and recommends long-range transportation plans for the county.
The planning organization has taken note of the uptick in new residential and commercial development between Dade City and Zephyrhills.
“We felt there would be more benefit to having a 10-foot trail,” said Howell. “There seems to be more activity going on in the area.”
The trail will extend along the west side of U.S. 301 from Kossik Road north to a sidewalk at Dade Avenue. Road paving will cover about 6 miles from Kossik to Bougainvillea Avenue in Dade City. A new traffic signal also is planned at the junction of U.S. 301 and U.S. 98.
The trail eventually will hook up with existing and planned trail segments – including Hardy Trail in Dade City – to form a regional network extending from Hillsborough County to the Withlacoochee Trail Head in Pasco.
A study will be completed over the next year to create a vision for future development on U.S. 301 from Kossik to the U.S. 98 Bypass including a transportation strategy. A public workshop will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 12 at the City of Zephyrhills Council Chambers, 5335 Eighth St.
The northern extension of Hardy Trail is a priority of Pasco MPO. Construction is slated to begin in 2017.
Preserving the scenic beauty of the area has been a concern of residents, Howell said. “They have nice rolling vistas and rolling hills, and they want to keep them,” he said.
Area residents already take advantage of Hardy Trail.
On a bright afternoon in Dade City, Anna Crerand pulled her 2-year-old son, Jude, in a red wagon along Hardy Trail. Charlie, 5, and Genevieve, 4, pushed off on their scooters.
Crerand loves the nearly 1-mile trail that meanders through wooded neighborhoods from a trailhead at Church Avenue near downtown. And she is pleased about the county’s future trail plans.
“It gives me a place to exercise and it’s an easy way to connect with downtown,” she said. “I feel good about taking the kids on the trail.”
Her family moved to Dade City about five years ago.
“This is a big bonus knowing the trail is here,” Crerand said. “We didn’t know how much we’d enjoy it. It’s nice to see people in the community. You’re all engaged in the same thing.”
In late afternoon more residents showed up to walk or jog the trail either on their own, or with a dog in tow.
Multi-use trails promote healthy lifestyles and also make Dade City more attractive to tourists and people looking to relocate, said Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez.
The new trail promotes that.
“People have access to a community where they can bike and walk more easily,” Hernandez said.
It also makes good business sense, she added.
“You want a good road to ride on, but for businesses coming to Dade City or East Pasco, this is an important feature,” she said. “It’s an important piece of quality of life to make sure the roads are drivable and well maintained. It’s a very heavily traveled road.”
Hand-in-hand with the repaving and trail, Dade City is beautifying U.S. 98 Bypass. The approximately $113,000 project is funded with about $26,000 from the Florida Department of Transportation. The remainder is from the city through the Penny for Pasco program.
“We talk about a gateway,” Hernandez said. “It looks much nicer. I think it’s an added touch when people decide if they want to live here. They say ‘wow, it was a beautiful town.’ “
Howell said municipalities are more aware now of the “complete streets” concept when streets are designed for vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and bus riders, with a focus on increased safety and beauty.
It is better in the long run to build multi-use trails when possible rather than come back later to retrofit a street, he said.
As enhancement to the trail system, Pasco MPO is working on a master plan for parks and recreation with the potential for creating new parks with connecting trails that reduce the need for residents to drive.
“In a lot of places people have to actually get in a car and drive over even though they can see the park,” Howell said. “We’re trying to avoid that by making a more robust trail system.”
Published March 11, 2015