Pasco County’s efforts to extend State Road 56 from Meadow Pointe Boulevard to U.S. 301 are advancing, as construction is now in the latter phases of development.
“The main thing is the local connection between Zephyrhills and Wesley Chapel,” stated Gregory Deese, resident engineer for the Florida Department of Transportation.
The project, which began two years ago, will offer motorists a direct route between the two communities.
This will be a new alternative to traveling on Old State Road 54 further north.
Deese noted that it may also be beneficial in serving as a new hurricane evacuation route for those distancing themselves from coastlines.
Currently, State Road 56 ends at its intersection with Meadow Pointe Boulevard.
The road’s future extension, heading east, is barricaded from public use as roadway is still being constructed.
There’s about ½-mile of roadway that remains to be built, at which point the 6-mile stretch will be paved with asphalt, Deese said.
Traffic lights will also be installed where State Road 56 intersects with Morris Bridge Road and as it intersects with U.S. 301.
That work will require some daytime lane closures on both Morris Bridge Road and U.S. 301.
Flaggers will signal motorists as opposing traffic will have to share lane space.
“We’ll have stop signs and ‘slow’ signs to make sure that [the] operation is safe,” the engineer said. “You’ll stop traffic in one direction to allow the opposite direction to go through.”
Closures are expected to take place before and after morning traffic peak hours, Deese added.
In addition to the lights where it meets State Road 56, Morris Bridge Road will undergo an expansion.
This will accommodate a northbound and southbound left-turning lane – both heading east and west onto State Road 56 respectively.
U.S. 301 will be expanded to include a right-turn lane, and re-striped to provide a left-turn lane – both heading westbound onto State Road 56.
The project also will provide easier access to the Zephyrhills Correctional Facility on U.S. 301 (Gall Boulevard).
A northbound left-turn lane and a southbound right-turn lane on U.S. 301 will be added as a convenient entryway onto the premises.
Also, a 10-foot-wide trail will be added on the south end of State Road 56 for pedestrians.
“The multi-purpose trail on [State Road] 56 is basically a path that rollerbladers or walkers will be able to use,” Deese explained.
Also included is a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the north end, and two 7-foot-wide bicycle lanes – on both shoulders of the road.
These amenities will run the entire course of the 6-mile project.
The $59.2-million development is set for completion as early as this fall.
Published March 27, 2019