The State Road 54/56 corridor was the primary topic of conversation between Pasco County administrator Michele Baker and Pasco County Commission chair Jack Mariano with Florida Department of Transportation secretary Ananth Prasad in Tallahassee last week. And, of course, the proposed elevated toll road planned to link U.S. 301 in Zephyrhills with U.S. 19 near New Port Richey, was part of that discussion.
“This is a very unique opportunity for Pasco County,” Prasad said in a release. “It’s not every day that a private company offers to come in and design, construct and maintain a new roadway with no costs to taxpayers.”
But the project is not exactly being well-received by everyone. A group of residents along the State Road 54/56 corridor have organized in recent weeks to oppose it. This, among other things, has pushed Baker to suggest public meetings discussing the proposal happen sooner rather than later.
“It is very important that we inform our residents of the projected need to address traffic congestion, and the alternatives available,” Baker said in a release.
Mariano, however, is not convinced.
“I want to make sure Secretary Prasad looks at all of our options,” he said, in a release. “Projects like the Ridge Road extension should also be brought into the discussion to help alleviate any traffic congestion on State Roads 54 and 52, and provide another hurricane evacuation route.”
A proposed extension of Ridge Road has been tied up with environmental concerns.
Although it’s not part of the official group of public meetings to introduce the elevated road concept to the public, Commissioner Kathryn Starkey is holding a town hall meeting Monday to discuss that and other planned growth development along the growing corridor. That begins at 7 p.m. at the Sunlake High School gymnasium, 3023 Sunlake Blvd., in Land O’ Lakes.
“This proposal has the potential to create numerous jobs for Floridians, improve traffic flow in Pasco County, and enhance economic development,” Prasad said. “However, we want to hear what the community wants to help with growing congestion in this area.”
The first official meeting is planned for March 15 at Fresh Market at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive in Wesley Chapel. That meeting begins at 10 a.m.