Orange traffic cones and road signs signaling “a new traffic pattern” are a common sight for motorists, especially those traveling Pasco County’s state highway grid.
Amid COVID-19 lockdowns and now hopefulness that a vaccine could mean a return to normalcy, roadwork in Pasco County never stopped. Construction crews cleared rights of way, smoothed out dirt, buried pipes, paved new traffic lanes, landscaped medians, added pedestrian and bicycle lanes, and realigned existing roadways to ease traffic congestion in one of Tampa Bay’s fastest-growing counties.
Several major road projects from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will be completed within the next four years. They include work on a new diverging diamond interchange at State Road 56 and Interstate 75, as well as projects on State Road 54 and State Road 52.
The construction schedules haven’t always met expectations.
Pasco County commissioners recently expressed displeasure with the slower than anticipated pace of project completions, especially on the diverging diamond. Pasco officials pushed to get the project started early, hoping for a spring 2021 completion. Instead, the schedule promises a summer 2022 end date, according to FDOT officials.
The new interchange is an entry and exit off I-75 onto State Road 56 where commercial and residential development is bringing new retail, hotels and residents to the area. Among the destinations are Cypress Creek Town Center, Tampa Premium Outlets and AdventHealth Center Ice.
The first completed road project is expected in late 2021 when work ends on the widening of State Road 54 east of Curley Road to east of Morris Bridge Road. The last project through the pipeline will be the widening and realignment of State Road 52 in summer 2024.
Here is a list of some major state road projects currently under construction in Pasco County:
Interstate 75 at State Road 56 diverging diamond interchange
Construction began in January 2019, with a completion scheduled in summer 2022. The estimated cost is about $33 million.
The diverging diamond is a popular design innovation with a unique pattern that relies on multiple lanes of traffic in a crisscross pattern and a limited number of traffic signals.
This project is the first diverging diamond in District 7 of the FDOT. Others are planned in Hillsborough County at State Road 54 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, at I-75; and at Gibsonton Drive, at I-75.
FDOT’S website praises the diverging diamond for its ability to handle heavy traffic volumes, increased pedestrian safety, more efficient signal timings and fewer opportunities for vehicles to crash.
Interstate 75 at Overpass Road
Construction on a new diamond interchange, including changes to local road patterns, began in October 2020. Completion of the approximately $64 million project is scheduled for summer 2023.
The new interchange is located about 3.5 miles south of State Road 52. There will be a flyover for westbound Overpass Road access onto southbound I-75.
Overpass will be widened from two to four lanes between I-75 and Old Pasco Road, and to six lanes between I-75 and Boyette Road. Blair Drive will be realigned to connect with Old Pasco Road, and McKendree Road will be realigned to connect to Boyette.
Initially, crews will work in the southwest area of the project where a new neighborhood access road will be built at Old Pasco Road. It will replace the current Blair Drive link to Overpass.
State Road 54 widening in the Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills areas
About 4.5 miles of State Road 54 will be widened from two lanes to four lanes from east of Curley Road to east of Morris Bridge Road.
Construction began in November 2017 and is scheduled for completion in late 2021. The estimated cost is $42.5 million.
In early November, eastbound traffic shifted onto newly paved lanes from west of Wesley Chapel Loop to New River Road. Simultaneously, Pasco is remodeling the New River Branch Public Library on State Road 54.
A sidewalk will be built on the north side of the roadway with a 10-foot-wide multi-use path on the south side.
State Road 52 widening and realignment near Dade City and San Antonio
The project will widen and realign State Road 52 between Uradco Place and Fort King Road.
Construction began in November 2019, with completion scheduled in summer 2024. The estimated cost is $81.4 million.
A short portion of McCabe Road between Curley Road and Wirt Road is closed until spring 2021. Williams Cemetery Road is closed east of Wichers Road and McCabe, also until spring 2021.
In addition, some daily lane closures, with flagmen signaling to motorists, can be expected on Curley, McCabe, Prospect Road and Clinton Avenue. A detour route is available using Curley, Prospect and Wirt.
State Road 52 widening in Land O’ Lakes
About 3.8 miles of State Road 52 will be widened into a six-lane divided road from Suncoast Parkway to east of U.S. 41.
Construction began in September 2019, with completion scheduled in late 2023. The estimated cost is $49.8 million.
A 12-foot-wide multi-use path will be built on the north side of State Road 52. In addition, about one mile of U.S. 41 will be widened as it approaches the intersection with the state road.
By Kathy Steele
Published January 13, 2021