Board members of the Pasco Metropolitan Planning Organization have adopted a priority list for road projects that is largely unchanged from last year.
But, there is one exception: The list now includes a plan to widen U.S. 301 to a four-lane divided highway from the Hillsborough County line to State Road 56.
The five-year work program runs through fiscal year 2020-2021.
While there’s little change on the road list, the sidewalk list is a different story.
Nine new projects for 5-foot sidewalks are listed as priorities in the 2016-2017 work plan.
Six of those in the top 10 have jumped ahead of other longtime sidewalk requests.
The shift in priorities prompted questions by Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano. Mariano wonders if the ranking system is fair to communities that have waited years for sidewalks.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Mariano at the Sept. 8 board meeting of the MPO.
Among sidewalk projects that Mariano hoped to see higher on the list were Ranch Road, Zimmerman Road and Majestic Boulevard.
Lutz residents also have lobbied over the years for sidewalks on Leonard Road.
That project sits in the 20th slot, near the bottom of 25 proposed projects.
Mariano said he planned to meet with MPO staff members to review the criteria used to rank projects.
MPO Vice Chairman Jeff Starkey also took issue with the criteria.
“What if we don’t agree with how you’re calculating this?” he asked.
The lists of road, transit, multi-use paths and sidewalk projects are updated annually and submitted to the Florida Department of Transportation so they can be considered in FDOT’s five-year work plan for federally funded projects in Pasco.
Sidewalks, multi-use paths and trails are ranked on a point system based on criteria such as speed limits, connectivity to existing sidewalks and trails, accessibility to schools and transit stops, improved mobility in low-income and minority neighborhoods, and the consecutive years a project has been on the list.
Mariano said communities aren’t getting enough credit for time waited. There also are situations, he said, where speed limits might be low, but safety is still an issue for other reasons.
Changes can be made, and projects aren’t automatically done in order of their listing, said James Edwards, the Pasco MPO director.
The availability of money is a factor, he added.
“You don’t follow it in lock step,” Edwards said. “Things will shift around.”
The new sidewalk projects are:
- Ridge Road/Little Road to Rowan Road
- Congress Street/north of Lomand Avenue to Ridge Road
- Old County Road 54/Little Road to State Road 54
- U.S. 41/Lake Bambi Circle to State Road 52
- Darlington Road at U.S. 19 to Sunray Drive
- Fort King Road/17th Street/Morningside to Coleman Avenue
- Regency Park Boulevard/ U.S. 19 to Cherry Creek Lane
- Darlington Road/U.S. 19 to Hama Drive
- 17th Street/Meridian Avenue to County Road 41/Lock Street
For a complete list of the MPO’s 2016 priority projects, visit PascoCountyFl.net.
Published September 14, 2016