BROOKSVILLE — New sidewalks and bicycle lanes, improved intersections and a long-awaited road construction project south of the county airport are included in plans reviewed last week by the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization.
During a presentation of the state Department of Transportation's draft five-year work plan, MPO member Dave Russell said he was especially pleased to see the new road on the list.
The road will realign County Line Road east of the Suncoast Parkway with the intersection of U.S. 41 and Ayers Road on the north side of Masaryktown. The new four-lane road will run north along the east side of the Trillium community, then east near the southern edge of the airport property before hooking into U.S. 41.
The draft plan slates it for construction in 2019.
"I know you've been working on that one for many years, and we finally have construction in the work program for it,'' said Lee Royal of the DOT.
"I'm really excited to see the Ayers Road construction project,'' Russell said. "That's going to open up the entire south end of the airport,'' creating a connection not previously available to the Suncoast Parkway.
"I think it's going to be a great economic development piece as well as a capacity improvement,'' Russell said.
"It's been like a 20-year dream,'' said Dennis Dix, the county's transportation coordinator.
Dix said funding for the project likely came through because the DOT understands the economic development significance.
The project is 2.9 miles long. Right-of-way acquisition has been going on for years. The construction cost tops $22 million.
The five-year plan also includes $11.2 million for road resurfacing and $7.2 million in Hernando County and $18 million in Citrus County for purchase of right of way from willing sellers for the future extension of the Suncoast Parkway into Citrus.
SR 50 widenings
Because local officials have told the DOT that improvements on State Road 50 near the interchange with Interstate 75 are priorities, two projects on SR 50 have been advanced.
Right-of-way purchase to widen a 3.7-mile section of SR 50 from four to six lanes from Windmere Road to McKethan Road has been moved up to 2018. Preliminary engineering for widening SR 50 from Lockhart Road to Remington Road also has been moved up to 2018. That segment is just under 1 mile.
Sidewalks in the mix
The new plan moves up construction of a sidewalk along Dr. M.L. King Jr. Boulevard from Broad Street to Main Street, on the south side of Brooksville, from 2015 to 2014 and a sidewalk and a bike lane along Osowaw Boulevard from Shoal Line Boulevard to Tarpon Boulevard, west of Spring Hill, from 2016 to 2015.
Also added is preliminary engineering in 2016 and construction in 2018 of a sidewalk along Quality Drive and Medical Boulevard from Mariner Boulevard to County Line Road in Spring Hill, a stretch of just over a mile.
Preliminary engineering for intersection improvements at Jefferson Street and Ponce De Leon Boulevard in Brooksville has been added to the plan, to take place in 2018.
Also included is $7.6 million for projects at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, including runway preservation work, and $5.4 million to operate the county's transit service.
MPO member Lara Bradburn asked Royal how the county's priority list will be affected as Hernando's MPO merges with the Transportation Planning Organization in Citrus County over the next few months.
Royal said each county now has about 15 projects on its priority list. When the merger takes place, she said, the new MPO will have to agree on a priority list of about 20 projects. She said she hopes to have that list by October.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.