WESLEY CHAPEL — A new elementary school is about to rise on Overpass Road, but it may not be the Overpass Road you know.
Overpass, a 1-mile stretch of road on the northern edge of Wesley Chapel, is a reminder of how the housing downturn has affected road building in Pasco County. Development money was supposed to pave the four-lane road all the way from Old Pasco Road to Zephyrhills, opening up a new east-west bypass for the region.
Today, Overpass abruptly dead-ends about a half-mile east of its intersection with Boyette Road.
"Had there not been a slowdown in development, more of it would have been developed," said John Petrashek, the school district's director of new construction.
About a mile away, at Curley Road, Overpass Road picks up again.
This second piece of Overpass Road, slightly less than a mile in length, was recently completed by the developer, Crown Community Development, as part of its development contract for the Watergrass housing project off Curley Road.
The sole purpose of this second Overpass Road is to reach the new elementary school, which should start construction as soon as the county's top staff planners give it the green light on Thursday. If things go according to plan, the school for 900 kids is slated to open August 2009, said schools planning director Chris Williams.
But the two pieces of Overpass Road won't be joined — at least not while the housing market languishes.
So drivers might one day soon find themselves heading down Overpass Road from Old Pasco Road, thinking they could get to the new elementary school in one straight shot.
But they can't.
The road dead-ends on Overpass, next to the Palm Cove development, just east of Boyette Road.
Drivers will have to go south down Boyette Road, head east on State Road 54, and back up north on Curley Road, before finding the second piece of Overpass Road leading to the school.
To add to the annoyance, the second piece of Overpass Road may even be somewhere within sight of the first piece of Overpass Road.
Drivers might not be so pleased.
Petrashek laughed ruefully when this scenario was sketched out to him.
"They'll only do that once," he said.
Chuin-Wei Yap can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813)909-4613.