Saturday, April 21, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco officials remain interested in elevated toll road

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco commissioners on Tuesday gave their blessing to a feasibility study linked to a proposed toll road on State Roads 54 and 56 in south Pasco County, but they couldn't agree on whether to back the project without more information and public input.

The approval, at the request of state transportation officials, came a week before developers are due to submit proposals to build and operate a privately run toll road along the highways.

The project, which has yet to be approved, would run about 33 miles and link U.S. 19 to Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, Interstate 75 and possibly U.S. 301. Much of it would be elevated.

It has drawn tentative support from state transportation officials who argue it would expand the highway system while involving limited taxpayer dollars. It could also offer a windfall in the form of right-of-way leases.

But before moving forward, transportation officials wanted to clarify whether the county backed the project, or at least the next logical step: a feasibility study.

Commissioners said they backed the study, voting 5-0 in support, but on the larger question of whether to wholeheartedly embrace the project, they were divided.

Most said they needed more information and wanted to know whether it made more sense to build an elevated toll road elsewhere, possibly along Ridge Road.

"We haven't had a public session on this and we haven't had any buy-in from the public," Commissioner Ted Schrader said.

Commissioners said they have heard from Pasco residents who are equally concerned. Some said they believe the project is already approved while others said they feared it will result in soaring overpasses that will divide south Pasco.

County development director Richard Gehring gave commissioners an overview. He suggested the road could be constructed on pilings to allow roads, sidewalks and bike lanes to pass underneath. It could allow for managed bus lanes, helping to solve public transportation needs.

Officials have debated the idea since June when a development group called International Infrastructure Partners submitted a proposal to state transportation officials to build and operate an elevated toll road in south Pasco.

After strong support initially, enthusiasm waned when the Urban Land Institute visited the county in early October and suggested officials not proceed with the elevated toll road. The institute hasn't yet issued a final report but in initial remarks noted that many cities are tearing down their elevated highways for aesthetic reasons. Hearing this, some officials said it might be better to step back and re-evaluate the idea.

International Infrastructure withdrew its proposal shortly after, citing an "unfavorable" political climate. The company said it would resubmit its plan in December. Proposals are due Monday.

Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Comments
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely unable to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother,...
Updated: 3 hours ago
After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

TAMPA — Confronted in late 2017 with reports of misconduct by substitute teachers hired through a contractor, Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins said he would ask tough questions and demand answers. He had his lawyer, Jeff Gibson, ...
Published: 04/21/18
Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Times staffThe greater Brandon area will celebrate the grand opening of its second Goodwill store beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday (April 28) at 1407 U.S. 301. The new store will add another 12,000 square feet to the complex, which includes a 200,000-...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

DUNEDIN — After losing a four-run lead thanks to a bad sixth inning, it would have been easy for Clearwater Central Catholic to fold against Dunedin in the final of the 49th annual Dunedin Spring Tournament. But quality relief pitching from Gar...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly four hours before taking the field against his former team Friday, Rays outfielder Denard Span spoke admirably about the Minnesota Twins, their organization in general, even hometown icon Joe Mauer.But business is busin...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up the ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blue line. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by (Lightning...
Updated: 11 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 20

Friday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 15, Central 0
Updated: 11 hours ago
St. Pete says discharge never reached the bay. Its own report says otherwise.

St. Pete says discharge never reached the bay. Its own report says otherwise.

ST. PETERSBURG — The city said not one of the 266,000 gallons of reclaimed water released on Jan. 18 reached Tampa Bay.There was no mention of the waste released from the Northeast Water Reclamation Facility ever reaching the bay in the city’s notice...
Published: 04/20/18
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Nicole Leary and Taylor Redington stood outside St. Petersburg High School on Friday morning with parents and protesters who had gathered with bullhorns and signs. In a few minutes they would lead about 70 students on a walk to City Hall, joining oth...
Published: 04/20/18
Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

TAMPA — Deputies are searching for a woman accused of blocking a special needs school bus with her car, getting out and banging and kicking on the bus door until she broke the glass.And there were four children inside, deputies said, as she shouted a...
Published: 04/20/18