The Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has adopted a draft of its transportation improvement plan for fiscal years 2023 to 2027.
The board, which is made up of elected leaders from Pasco County, Port Richey, New Port Richey, Dade City and Zephyrhills, gave preliminary approval to a draft brought to them at their April 14 meeting, by the MPO staff.
Scott Ferry, a transportation planner for the MPO, outlined some of the major improvements included in the draft TIP. They are:
- The widening of State Road 52, from east of U.S. 41 to Bellamy Brothers Boulevard: $121.5 million
- Interstate 75 to Interstate 275 corridor improvements, from County Line Road to State Road 56: $57.6 million
- U.S. 98 Bypass, around Dade City: $35.8 million
- U.S. 41/State Road 54 interchange design and right of way acquisition: $33.6 million
- Pedestrian overpasses over the Suncoast Parkway, at State Road 54 and State Road 52: $18.7 million
- Roadway lighting projects on State Road 52, State Road 54 and U.S. 301: $4.7 million
A final approval is not expected until the board’s meeting in June. Once adopted, the TIP, as it’s known, will become effective July 1.
Ferry also told the board that Pasco has been faring extremely well, in terms of funding from the Florida Department of Transportation.
“Comparing funding levels with the current TIP, with the draft TIP, we see that funding is increasing by 68% in fiscal year 2023; 9% in (fiscal year) 2024; 145% in fiscal year 2025; and, 56% in (fiscal) year 2026.
“Comparing current total funding, with the draft TIP funding, spending is projected to increase by an overall amount of $154 million, for an increase of funding of almost 50% over a five-year period.
“This very large increase reflects the Florida DOT’s commitment to Pasco County and the recognition of the many transportation improvements that exist in the county. The MPO and the county are very grateful to the Florida DOT, for their strong commitment to their partnership with the county.
“It goes without saying, it’s very significant to the county and it’s going to go a long way toward addressing a great many unmet needs,” Ferry said.
Before he shared some of the high points, Ferry provided an overview regarding why adopting the TIP is both significant, and essential.
Without it, Ferry said, federal funds could not be spent on projects within the county.
“The TIP is a five-year schedule and program of federal, state and locally funded transportation projects in Pasco County. It reflects the Pasco MPO’s short-term transportation programming priorities,” Ferry said.
Developing the TIP is required by federal law and it must be updated annually, under state law, he said.
“The TIP is required to be fiscally constrained, which means the amount that is planned to be spent on the projects in the TIP cannot exceed the estimated amount of funding that’s available during the five-year period.”
It includes a list of all transportation programs and projects funded by federal and state funds, and includes all regionally significant projects, regardless of the funding source.
“That includes any projects that are county funded or privately funded, that are deemed to be regionally significant.”
Categories that are included among the priorities in the TIP include:
- MPO planning efforts
- Traffic operations and safety improvements
- Intelligent Transportation projects
- Additional roadway capacity improvements
- Resurfacing projects
- Bicycle and pedestrian improvements
- Transit projects
It also includes funding for improvements to the Suncoast Parkway.
The agenda backup materials also included maps for:
- Proposed highway capacity improvement projects
- Bicycle and pedestrian improvement projects locations
- Safety improvement projects
- County capital project locations
On another note, Commission Kathryn Starkey offered a shorter-term solution, to address congestion on State Road 52, before the final segment of that roadway is widened in Pasco.
“I drive it all of the time to get here (to Dade City), Starkey said.
“I was wondering if it is possible to at least get a passing lane, because it is full of construction trucks, pulling in and off.
“And, if we could get some passing lanes here and there, that would make a huge difference in that five years.”
“A few passing lanes in the meantime would make a huge difference to commuters on that road, especially as more and more construction trucks, with Angeline and other projects coming on there.
“It’s going to be stop-and-go, and someone is going to get hurt, like me, trying to zip around those cars and trucks.”
Published April 20, 2022