Efforts are underway to enhance a busy and sometimes dangerous roadway intersection that passes through Dade City and unincorporated Pasco County.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 7 office has developed and unveiled recommended corridor realignment improvements for the U.S. 301/U.S. 98/Clinton Avenue intersection — via the agency’s Alternative Corridor Evaluation (ACE) process.
A virtual public information presentation was released on Nov. 4 online. This meeting provided an opportunity to review the corridor alternatives and provide input.
Proposed improvements seek to:
- Eliminate the current closely spaced intersections of U.S. 301 at U.S. 98 and U.S. 301 at Clinton Avenue
- Facilitate east/west travel
- Maximize the benefits of the improvements to Clinton Avenue and designation as State Road 52 west of U.S. 301
- Enhance safety along the corridor
With those objectives in mind, five proposed corridor options were developed in FDOT’s ACE study, which were shared in detail in the prerecorded online presentation.
Each of the proposed corridor routes are 250 feet wide to allow for flexibility in developing proposed alignments that avoid potential constraints. It also is anticipated that a four-lane, expandable to six-lane — in divided sections — will be developed for corridor consistency.
From the five alignment alternatives, the state transportation department is recommending the Corridor B option, to proceed to the project development and environmental (PD&E) study.
The 1.91-mile Corridor B route begins approximately 485 feet north of Townsend Road, and diverts U.S. 98 to the north along the east side of mobile home parks along Wilds Roads, until it ties into Clinton Avenue, east of U.S. 301.
The corridor, according to FDOT, “will impact primarily rural and farmland properties as well as a few residential properties, concentrated at the northern end of the proposed realignment.” The total cost of the recommended corridor alignment is estimated between $27.8 million and $38.3 million, according to the presentation.
Here are the other proposed corridor alternatives studied:
- Corridor A — 0.88-mile route begins approximately 3,300 feet southeast of the intersection of U.S. 98 and U.S. 301, and diverts U.S. 98 to the north, and ties into Clinton Avenue, east of U.S. 301
- Corridor C — 3.48-mile route begins approximately 725 feet northeast of the overpass of U.S. 98 and Old Lakeland Highway, and diverts U.S. 98 to the north, mirroring the existing geometry of Old Lakeland Highway until it ties into Clinton Avenue
- Corridor D — 0.80-mile route begins approximately 350 north of the entrance to the Grove Ridge RV resort and diverts U.S. 98 to the west, and continues until it intersect U.S. 301 at an existing median opening
- Corridor E — 1.47-mile route begins approximately at the intersection of U.S. 98 and Jim Jordan Road, and diverts U.S. 98 to the west, and continues until it intersects U.S. 301
How the corridors compare
The state’s presentation summarized the drawbacks of those corridors, as compared to Corridor B.
Corridors D and E “do not meet the purpose and need criterion of eliminating the closely spaced major intersections and are proposed for elimination from consideration.”
Corridor C “has the greatest involvement with the natural, social, cultural and physical environment, engineering issues,” the presentation said. Corridor A “has greater social impacts (than Corridor B), including the potential relocations and potential effects to the Harmony Heights and South Clinton Heights communities,” it added.
Corridor A has an estimated project cost from just under $13 million to $17.5 million, while Corridor C comes in at a projected cost between just below $51 million to $69.4 million.
Public comments on Corridor B and other alternatives will be received through Nov. 25, and can be made by visiting FDOTd7Studies.com/US301US98INT/ or emailing FDOT District 7 project manager Brian Shroyer at .
The next steps in the project development process include the PD&E phase, design phase, right of way acquisition and then construction.
There’s no set time frame on the project, but it’s anticipated construction wouldn’t begin for at least several more years.
PascThe PD&E study should be ready sometime in early 2022, Shroyer wrote in an email to The Laker/Lutz News.
The PD&E phase would look at the road width, number of lanes, sidewalks and trails that may be necessary.
Then, depending on if funding is secured for right of way and construction during that time, it could take a couple years after that before shovel hits dirt, Shroyer said.
Reasons for intersection improvements
District 7 of FDOT initiated the planning phase of the U.S. 301/U.S. 98/Clinton Avenue intersection project in early 2019.
The U.S. 98 intersection realignment is listed among the needs detailed in the Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Mobility 2045 long-range transportation plan.
The virtual presentation — which remains available online on FDOT’s website — outlined the necessity for alterations to the busy intersection.
It was explained how the closely spaced major intersections of U.S. 301 at U.S. 98 and U.S. 301 at Clinton Avenue are only 1,500 feet apart and have roadways with high traffic volume (feeder and receiver roadway segments have an annual average daily traffic of 5,000 vehicles or greater).
Because of this, traveling through the area requires turning and weaving movements that result in crash rates that exceed the statewide average, the presentation explained.
The data shows that the closely spaced intersections have crash rates that exceed the statewide average.
Between 2013 to 2017, the U.S. 301/U.S. 98 intersection saw 68 crashes, while the U.S. 301/Clinton Avenue intersection saw 72 crashes during that period, according to FDOT studies.
Furthermore, the realignment of State Road 52 from east of McKendree Road to east of U.S. 301 will serve as an additional east/west route in the regional transportation network. Because of this, traffic at the U.S.301/U.S 98 and U.S 301/Clinton Avenue intersections is anticipated to increase, exacerbating the current intersection safety concerns, according to the presentation.
Maps, drawings, and other information are available for review under the documents tab on the project website, fdotd7studies.com/US301US98INT/.
Plans also can be viewed in person at:
- The FDOT District 7 Headquarters, 11201 N. Malcolm McKinley Drive in Tampa
- Hugh Embry Library, 14215 Fourth St., in Dade City
Published November 18, 2020