Road widenings, resurfacing projects and sidewalk construction are all part of the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) five-year tentative work program in Pasco County.
Brian Hunter, a planning manager for FDOT’s District 7 office gave members of the Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization an overview of what’s in the plan, and he also talked about some shifts in priorities.
The Pasco MPO is the lead transportation planning agency for Pasco and its board is made up of elected leaders from Pasco County, Zephyrhills, Dade City, New Port Richey and Port Richey.
Hunter explained that the tentative work program essentially lays out the work that FDOT plans to do in Pasco County — and includes the work it plans to do with partners, such as GoPasco and the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.
“It includes all of the phases, from planning, to design/right of way/construction and maintenance on some of those facilities,” Hunter said.
The state transportation department is wrapping up the five-year plan that ends in fiscal year 2028 and will be adding fiscal year 2029.
The FDOT also receives comments from the public and the MPO, then makes any adjustments necessary before submitting the tentative work plan to the Legislature, Hunter said. The deadline for comments from the MPO was Nov. 20.
Once the Legislature approves a plan and it gets signed by the governor, the plan takes effect on July 1, 2024, becoming the adopted 2025 through 2029 work program, Hunter said.
He explained how FDOT determines its priorities.
“Our first priority is to always preserve our existing projects. If something has a cost change, our first priority is to add funds to that; or, if there’s a scope change, our first priority is to add funds to it, to make sure that project is whole.”
“The second is, we move on to the next phase of a project.
“If we had design funding and we need to add right of way funding to it, and it’s the appropriate time to do so, we move those projects forward — with the hopeful goal of moving to construction on those.
“The third priority is to add those new projects.”
The priorities are based on the MPO priorities, regional priorities and FDOT priorities.
“If there was a project that was in the previous work program presentation that I don’t mention today, that doesn’t mean that it has been removed or anything like that. It just means that there was no significant change,” Hunter told the Pasco MPO board, noting there are about 500 projects in District 7.
One project that has been of major interest in Pasco County involves the improvement of the State Road 54/U.S. 41 interchange, in Land O’ Lakes.
“We deferred the right of way to fiscal year 2028 on that,” Hunter said.
The department did that because it needs to have the appropriate documents to purchase right of way for the project and, until it does, it made sense to delay the funding into the year it would actually be used, Hunter said.
But a discussion during the board’s meeting may spur FDOT to consider early acquisition of a portion of the necessary right of way, to ensure that it’s not used for a different use before the intersection improvement project can move forward.
That issue is expected to be discussed again at the Pasco MPO board’s meeting in January.
Hunter also noted that Collector/Distributor roads previously in the five-year plan for the I-75/I-275 also have been shifted out of the five-year plan because of changing priorities.
Plans that are being recommended include:
- Widening U.S. 301. The tentative work program calls for right of way acquisition for that project in 2029
- Widening of Old Pasco Road. Right of way was added in fiscal year 2026 and construction was added in fiscal year 2028. Pasco County will be delivering that project, with some assistance from FDOT.
The plan also includes a number of resurfacing projects, some pedestrian/bicycle improvements and improvements at Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.
Other items of note include $5 million for enhancements at Zephyrhills Municipal Airport and $54 million for GoPasco.
Pasco County Commission Chairman Jack Mariano also raised an issue relating to the design for pedestrian/bicycle overpasses.
Two overpasses are planned in Pasco — one at the Suncoast Expressway and State Road 52, and another at the Suncoast Expressway at State Road 54.
Mariano asked if the state could look into a simpler design, which might enable the projects to be done more quickly and at a lower cost. If that happens, he said, funding might be available for more projects.
He pointed to a specific overpass in the Kissimmee area as an example.
“We can take a look at this,” Hunter said.
Mariano also noted that U.S. 41 runs from Miami to Detroit and there’s only one section of the road that’s two lanes.
“That section runs from State Road 52 all of the way up to (Hernando) County Line Road,” Mariano said.
Mariano said a study was done years ago, taking a look at that section.
He said he’d like for the FDOT team to take a look at it again.
Hunter replied: “We’ve heard a lot recently about the (U.S.) 41 and the two-lane section.
“We can take a look at it, see if there’s any way we can move that project forward.
“It’s the same problem we have with every project, it’s all funding constraints. But we can see if there’s any way to kind of piece it together and make it work,” Hunter said.
Major Pasco County projects
These are some of the projects in the Florida Department of Transportation’s District 7’s tentative work program, Fiscal Year 2025 through Fiscal Year 2029:
- Add lanes and reconstruct State Road 52, from east of U.S. 41 to Ehren Cutoff
- Add lanes and reconstruct U.S. 301, from south of State Road 56 to south of State Road 39
- Design work to address sidewalk gaps and construction of sidewalks at various locations
- Add lanes and reconstruct U.S. 301, from State Road 39 to County Road 54
- Add lanes and rehabilitate pavement on Old Pasco Road, from County Road 54/Wesley Chapel Boulevard to north of Sonny Drive
- Resurface State Road 56, from Bruce B. Downs to Meadow Pointe Boulevard
- Sidewalk at (Pasco Elementary) on Fort King Road, from Hester to north of Coleman
- Bike/path trail on Perrine Ranch Road, from east of Grand Boulevard to Mountain Ash Way
- Transportation planning for Pasco County, for fiscal year 2029-2030
- U.S. 19 pedestrian crossings at various locations
- Interstate 75 landscaping, from State Road 54 to south end of Overpass Road, southbound on ramp
- Resurfacing of U.S. 41, from Washington Lane to County Line Road
- Resurfacing of Interstate 275/Interstate 75, from the Hillsborough County line to County Road 54.
- Resurfacing of U.S. 41, from Bell Lake Road to east of Ehren Cutoff
- Resurfacing of Alternate U.S. 19, from Pinellas County line to U.S. 19
- Resurfacing State Road 54, from Bruce B. Downs Boulevard to east of Curley Road
- Resurfacing of U.S. 98/U.S. 301, from north Long Avenue to south of U.S. 98
- Signage/pavement markers for wrong way drivers at various interstate ramps
- Traffic management system, U.S. 41 from Hillsborough County line to Hernando County line
- Aviation capacity project, Zephyrhills Municipal Airport
Source: Florida Department of Transportation, District 7
Published November 22, 2023