The Pasco Metropolitan Planning Organization has approved changes to the fiscal year 2020-2021 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) to include $6,161,504 in additional spending.
The money will be used to support these improvement projects:
- U.S. 98, from U.S. 301 South to U.S. 301 North
- U.S. 98/State Road 35/State Road 700, from the Polk County Line/County Road 54 to Old Lakeland Highway
- U.S. 301, from U.S. 98 to the Hernando County line
The Florida Department of Transportation, which provided the additional funding, said the projects are designed to support economic development through the improved movement of goods, to provide better access to transportation facilities and major activity centers and to enhance safety, by reducing fatal and serious crashes.
The amendments to the Transportation Improvement Program will add preliminary design funding to develop concepts in conjunction with the project development and environmental (PD&E) studies, and to acquire a parcel from a willing seller that was identified during the PD&E phase for the project involving U.S. 98, from south of U.S. 301 to north of U.S. 301.
Carl Mikyska, executive director for the Pasco MPO, informed board members of the additional funding during an April 8 meeting.
Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey asked: “Do we have all of the money to widen (State Road) 52 all of the way across?”
Pasco County Commission Chairman Ron Oakley responded: “One section is not done yet, between (U.S.) 41 and Bellamy Road, is still not funded.”
Justin Hall, from FDOT’s District 7, told Starkey the target year for funding that section of State Road 52 is in fiscal year 2027.
“I am curious why we’re doing (U.S.) 301 ahead of (State Road) 52,” Starkey said.
Hall responded: “The TIP amendment that is before you is for some concept development, along (U.S.) 301 and (State Road) 98. This project is coming through a new program. It’s a rural arterial widening program.”
Starkey persisted: “I just wondered if we could use any of that money toward (State Road) 52.
Hall responded: “I don’t believe any of this money could be reallocated toward the (State Road) 52 project. There was a list of projects submitted to central office that met the criteria that they sent out to the districts. I believe this was one of two projects within our district that met all of the criteria.”
Starkey continued: “Do we know what the criteria was?”
Hall answered: “A big portion of it was the truck percentage, the truck traffic. U.S. 98/U.S. 301 corridor has a very high percentage of trucks per volume.”
Starkey observed: “I drive (State Road) 52 to come here and I can tell you, it’s full of trucks. It’s odd that we’re doing (U.S.) 301 ahead of (State Road) 52.
“But, thank you for the gift,” Starkey said.
Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore said “the importance of that widening, that connection on (State Road) 98, the overall objective is to connect the west side of the state to the east side.”
It will enable the movement of goods without jumping to major highways, he added.
Zephyrhills City Councilman Lance Smith noted: “The current connection of (State Road) 98 to (U.S.) 301 is dangerous, to be honest with you — the way it angles, comes in there. This is going to alleviate that, and provide freight another route.”
Moore added: “It’s going to assist them, with all of the great things they’re doing in Dade City, as well.”
Smith also touched on the complexity of state road funding.
“It’s very complicated in my mind, the pots of money that are available for certain projects.
“The matrix is very complicated.”